Football: Arsene's great idea leads to barriers, wildcats and one-armed Tone

THE GAFFER TAPES
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The Independent Online
Until this week I wasn't too sure about foreign managers. All this grilled broccoli diets, afternoon training and talking to the press goes against years of tradition. But now I'm convinced, Arsene's come up with a brilliant idea which could change the face of football management.

It all started when David Pleat got the tin tack at Wednesday on Monday. I was having a quiet croissant and bacon buttie with Arsene when we heard John Barnwell, the head of our League Managers' Association, on the radio. He was calling for a change: he said management had simply become too big and good coaches, like David, were not getting the chance to do enough coaching because of all the other jobs: dealing with contracts, watching videos, opening supermarkets, etc.

Fans have no idea how much time we spend at our clubs. If I'm not watching a match elsewhere I'm at the Old Cornfield, morning, noon and night. I've even got a bed in the office. That's dedication. Never mind those fans who say they live for their club, I live at it.

This, incidentally, has nothing to do with my wife kicking me out after an unfortunate incident involving myself, a credit card bill, the chairman's wife, the club's latest black lingerie collection and a Polaroid camera. Still, being at the club so much has given the chance to help the latest temp do some extra stock-taking in the back room of the club shop.

Anyway, I said to Arsene, "What can we do?" He replied: "Do what we do in France, have a blockade." I was on the phone straight away.

The upshot is we're staging a series of blockades at important football venues next week. The shared Lancaster Gate HQ of the FA and Premier League is the first target, followed by Sky TV's west London offices, England's training base at Bisham Abbey, Wembley Stadium for next Saturday's international, and the driveways of a few chairmen.

A 0-0 at Highbury tomorrow is another possibility and I'm optimistic as Arsene and Fergie are two of our biggest supporters. Alex, a former shop steward, has also been talking to his England players about downing boots at a pre-arranged moment in the Cameroon game.

George Graham, I'm delighted to say, has come on board. He's called up some old mates from Islington, a well-drilled defensive unit led by one- armed Tone, to spearhead a flying picket. This will be financed by a generous gift from a Norwegian benefactor.

It's good to have George aboard as the key thing is discipline. We've already had some wildcat action which has to be cracked down on. We'll lose public sympathy if we go on pulling the plug like one of our members, who had better remain nameless, did when his team lost a 2-0 lead at Upton Park on Monday.

There is also some local action being arranged. Kenny is refusing to give audible interviews at Newcastle while Gerry is threatening to overload Haringey health services by moving Spurs' account from Bupa to the NHS.

Obviously we are hoping for an early end to the dispute. All we are asking is for our workload to be reduced (well, one of the lads also wants pounds 500,000 in cash and a private plane to South America but he says he'll withdraw that demand if he gets a win next week).

As it happens I've been taking training myself this week as Kit's in casualty after that unfortunate incident during our firework night. Apparently if the treatment works well he'll be able to sit down again by the end of the month. Meanwhile, I've a bet with the local hack that I'll be able to get the quote "I've give them a rocket up the backside" in the nationals first.

We've the usual injury worries. Shaun Prone has a sore head after a night out with John Hartson, Ivor Niggle pulled a muscle lifting the Guy on to the bonfire, and Duane Spice has third-degree burns after trying to pull the Guy off the bonfire. Apparently the lads didn't realise he still wanted that Armani suit they found in his locker.

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