Exclusive: Interview with Bob

For regular readers of the blog, you’ll know that I go to Arsenal games with super Gooner Bob, and sit next to the big man for every home game of the season… we travelled to South Africa together in June to watch the world cup and whilst I returned in early July, my dear friend Bob has just returned after an extended stay in South Africa and then a cameo of some sorts in Kenya. But now he is back, in time for the start of the season, I thought it would be apt to catch up with him and hear his views on the summer and the forthcoming season…

Bob, first of all, welcome back to London, how were your travels to South Africa.

The world cup was absolutely amazing – the way the South African’s conducted themselves and the organisation of the tournament itself was beyond any expectations. England of course, didn’t do as well as we all wanted – but as a subplot to the tournament, like a lot of people, I had a soft spot for the African teams and was glad to see Ghana go as far as they did – South Africa being unlucky not to progress – it meant a lot to a lot of people.

What do you think of the pre-season so far?

I managed to catch the highlights of the Emirates Cup last weekend and have been keeping tabs on the ongoings within the club and I have to say I have been quite impressed with some of the younger players. Wilshere is always a player to keep an eye out for – and in pre-season he always makes an impression – but Arsene moved him into the middle, and he coped well and impressed, especially in the game against Celtic. Frimpong is a player who looks like he’s surpassed Eastmond in the pecking order and I can see why Arsene is giving him game time this pre-season – he reminds me Alex Song, and looks like he could be part of the first team this season. A few mistakes with his passing I put to one side considering the amount of games he’s played.

What is your take on the Cesc saga?

I have to say that I am quite disappointed in the way that Barcelona and the Spanish players have handle the situation – I find it to be very unprofessional and inappropriate. In terms of the possibility of Cesc going back to Barcelona, he has always stated that eventually he might want to go “home”, but that was always something expressed in the context of his latter years. Let’s hope that the situation isn’t as bad as the media have made out – the media in Spain have really ground every ounce of controversy of out Cesc – the fact he is in Spain is enough for them to play on – the problem is that Cesc falls for a few traps as we’ve seen. I’d like to see him come out in his first programme notes if not before and let us hear his side of the story.

What do you think about the departure of Eduardo?

I have to say that on some levels, I was disappointed, as I think he has a lot more to offer – but after the injury he has sustained and the way we play, it was always going to be difficult for him to perform at this level. A fresh start for him will be a good thing – to a place where he can play week in and week out – so I wish him all the luck in the world.

And what do you think of Eduardo’s replacement, Maroune Chamakh?

I watched a lot of games featuring Maroune in France in Bordeaux and I have always liked the player. The one thing that he has in his locker is the off his ball movement. It’s a tough ask for anyone to be a hit instantly, especially players from a different league, but he will definitely have an impact sooner or later. His off the ball movement is probably one of his best attributes and makes it hard for defenders to track him.

There has been a lot of media speculation regarding the goalkeeping department – what are your thoughts?

Normally I’d say that it’s a fresh start for a fresh season – and to give players like Fabianski and Almunia a new chance to understand their mistakes and build on them and get better. But I think we’ve done for a few seasons in a row and the players are still making the same old mistakes. Almunia is a decent keeper, but I just don’t think he cuts it at the top level. Fabianski is definitely a talent, and has been good in pre-season, but at this level, our number one needs to be a solid one, not one with potential. I do rate the two younger keepers Mannone and Szcznesy, but they are both too young and inexperienced to be promoted from third / fourth to first choice.

So, based on the above and your general overview of the squad, what are your thoughts regarding future transfers?

Well, getting in that solid goalkeeper would make a good start – the two captures so far have basically replaced departing players, and maybe too early to really comment. A 35 year old keeper would be fine for a season, and I think that is why we have been linked to Schwarzer – although I’m not really convinced by him – will he be an improvement on what we have? He has been quite error prone recently.

The main position to buy is definitely the centre back position – we’re down to three and it’s a position where you need four or five. The German back line looked like a good outfit and I think we’re linked with one or two of them and their keeper – I wouldn’t mind seeing one of them being brought in.

My other worry in the striking department, where we have four decent players – Van Persie being the one that stands out – but the big question is whether any of them can be the 25 / 30 goals a season man that we need. There is a lot resting on their shoulders and VP aside, are the other three really world beaters?

Well, Bob, thank you very much for that, you’ve brought up some interesting points there, and let’s see what happens in the next few weeks transfer wise, until then, adios!

No problem, good to be back – keep up the good work down here at WOA, it’s my first read every day!

  • Beyagurry

    You make a good point about the current crop of strikers. Yes, we know that Van Persie has something to offer – but he has never been the 25 goals a season striker that a top club needs – what’s the most he’s scored in a season – 12? Chamakh is a complete unknown – he could turn into that sort of player – but at the same time, he could be hit or miss. Vela / Bendtner don’t quite look they will ever score 20 goals a season – Vela plays more on the left of the three – shouldn’t we play Van Persie on the right (like he does for Holland) and maybe look at buying a new striker up top?

  • Berth

    @ Beygurry: another striker won’t be really ideal. Talking of goals, we score them well, just that we need to keep them when we score them and the best way to achieve that is to defend well as a team and to get a very reliable GK – Not Flap or Alumnia and certainly not the rookies we have.

  • Pete

    Apparently we’re close to signing the Bosnian captain, Emir Spahic. According to another blog, the guy was a top performer last year for French club Montpellier, helping them finish fifth in Ligue 1. Was supposed to be one of the surprise packages of the season, and some people, including Goal.com, had him in their team of the year. H’s described as experienced, strong, pacey and a stand out leader on the pitch. He also came third last year in equipe’s top ranking defenders.

    Sounds interesting.

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    Pete, I said that in the comments in the last article. He was easily the best defender in Ligue 1, alongside M’bia maybe. It would be an excellent transfer if he pulled it off and would give us a very good compliment of central defenders. I actually think it would give us a selection problem which would be brilliant! He’s admitted negotiations this morning which also fills me with hope.

    I just hope he follows it up with a keeper.

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    “The most important thing is that so far the negotiations go as planned and that the transfer could be completed soon,” said Spahić.

    “Arsenal is a great club, I’m an admirer of Arsene Wenger and I hope that Montpellier will cooperate.”

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    ARSENAL TO SIGN MOLDOVAN KEEPER ON THURSDAY

    (AP- MOLDOVA – Aug 4) Arsenal’s bid to sign the talented Moldovan international goalkeeper Nilain Levroji in a bid to solve their ongoing goalkeeping crisis moved closer last night with the talented stopper flying to London for a medical.
    The 23-year-old from Iskra-Stal Ribnita will join the Gunners in a €5million deal to be completed on Thursday.
    Levroji has played twice for the Moldovan national team but has been rated as one of the top young keepers in European football.
    News of his transfer to Arsenal was confirmed on Moldovan TV yesterday (Sunday).
    Arsenal had been expected to sign Australian international goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from fellow London team Fulham but the deal has fallen through with the West London club demanding €4million for the 37-year-old.
    Levroji will join fellow Eastern European Emir Spahic at the Emirates Stadium for the new season.
    Arsene Wenger has confirmed he is looking to bring in at least one more defender

  • Pete

    Cheers mate. Good to see that Spahić himself was the one who commented on the situation and that its not just paper talk.

    You know much about the Moldovan keeper mate? He any good?

  • Bonathan

    Well i agree with bob. I’m not sure schwartzer would be any better than what we already have. As for this Moldovan keeper. Granted, i know nothing about him other than he’s 23 years old and we already have 3 young promising keepers. If we’re after a keeper i’d have thought it’d be someone a bit more established.

    As for this spahic guy. Again, i know little about him. Wenger has a habit of buying unknowns and making them into superstars. i can’t help but think though, at 29, wouldn’t we have heard a bit more about this guy or at least hear other clubs from the major leagues interested in him? i can’t help but liken this situation to the, dare i say it, the pascal cygan situation. This begs the question, is this really the guy wenger hoestly belives is the right guy, or is he the only one he is prepared to shell out for.

    I must say, i thought the sum for jagielka was getting out of hand, i thought we offered good money. But the sums i heard for mertersacker, albeit just rumours, seemed reasonable. The quotes from the horses mouth however suggest that this is going to be the guy we’re getting. anyway, i guess we’ll see how it unfolds. Better somebody than nobaody anyway.

  • theusualsuspect

    Another day closer to the end of the transfer window and relief for Wenger. The only transfer in sight is a possible move for Jay Simpson to Hull for the paltry sum of £1.25million (this is what I am talking about Jeff) another homegrown English player who has not been given a chance gets bombed out. No doubt he has to help fund another cheapo signing from the French League. When will this farce end?

  • Arsefan101

    Do you know anything about Spahic or Levroji? Are they any good? I don’t think the eastern europeans are very good at rolling out keepers – akinfeev aside…!!

    Also, good read to read the interview with Bob, but who is Bob? He sounds like a Gooner Gooner Gooner!!

    Come on you reds!!

  • goonerman

    im not sure wethere im happy with the Emir Spahic signing or not, i dont expect wenger to spend 30 million pound becuase we all know it wont happen but i think we were all craving a household name and i know wenger says he doesnt like signing them but a big name can give the club a huge boost, i was thinking that maybe koz and djourou were going to be backups to a new signing but if this guy comes in and he is left footed then im pretty sure he wouldnt be starting alongside vermaelem, two left footers really dont work! if that is the centre backs we will have for the new season then i personly want dojourou to start alongside vermaelem he is the one with a bit of physical strength and he has actually played big games for us in the past!

    as for the daily tapping up from barcelona yet again messi come out to talk from his arse, i have so much respect for him as a footballer becuase when he plays you just get excited but as a person he is just as bad as his dirty spanish team mates, how can he have the bottle to come out and tell us we cant keep hold of him and that he thinks the way barcelona and the players have deal with the transfer has been done in the right way, they honestly have their own rules in barcelona and madrid, it has to stop sometime soon and i really think cesc has to come out in the next few days and say something to us the fans to save him self from getting haters!!

  • devday

    @ goonerman:
    The thing is with the “big names” – for example, Veron, Shevchenko, Robinho etc – is that they invariably fail. Whereas the likes of Drogba, Arshavin, Ronaldo, etc weren’t “big names” before they joined the league. The only big name to make it relatively big before he joined a Prem league is probably Torres.

    The alternative to signing a foreign player from another league is to obviously sign one from the Premiership – an already established player – but we’ve seen that that is a very hard and expensive market – English players are a premium – Carrick at £16m (same price as Arshavin)… Milner at £25m (roughly 5 Ramseys)… the non-English players are also hard to prize away, so Arsene is forced to look at other leagues – and not big names.

    If you look at the likes of Sagna, Vermaelen, Van Persie, Cesc, etc, etc – they weren’t really that high profile at all until they joined the Arsenal and now they are definitely classified at big names…

  • Pete

    The other day we were linked with Serdar Tasci and Rene Adler as our defender and goalkeeper. Bot of which I think would be ready to step into the first team now AND offer us longterm service.

    Perhaps Wenger feels we need an older, more experienced player in the likes of Emir Spahic, seeing as all our other central defenders are under 25.

  • goonerman

    @dev
    i totally understand and agree with you when it comes to spending big money on overseas player becuase for an example someone like suarez from ajax would probably set us back in the region on 25 million pound and he would be a huge risk even though he scored bags of goals for ajax to come to the premier league and replicate that is totally different as our league is so difficult! but when it comes to possibly getting this Emir Spahic for a reported 8 million then i think of players in our own league who have premier league experience who may be slightly more expensive but not stupid money!

    Gary Cahill

    Vincent kompany

    Serdar Tasci

    jussi jaaskelainen

    Marteen stekelenbeurg

    thats a small list but id rather have those players than some of these complete unknowns becuase they are known names but none of them are superstars they are all quality player who you could see going to the next level at a club like arsenal and lets be honest none of them are beyond us they would all jump at the chance to play for arsenal and could easily be afforded by us!

  • Kieran

    theusualsuspect wrote:

    Another day closer to the end of the transfer window and relief for Wenger. The only transfer in sight is a possible move for Jay Simpson to Hull for the paltry sum of £1.25million (this is what I am talking about Jeff) another homegrown English player who has not been given a chance gets bombed out. No doubt he has to help fund another cheapo signing from the French League. When will this farce end?

    Fella, Jay Simpson has had all the chances in the world, including loan moves where he couldn’t be bothered to turn up to training because he already knew it all. He’s being led quietly out of the door because his attitude stinks. In previous seasons he refused to play in the Carling Cup because he didn’t want to ‘waste his time’.

    It’s factually incorrect to suggest Simpson hasn’t been given a chance, and it’s factually incorrect to suggest that English players in general don’t get chances at Arsenal.

    If you want young English players at Arsenal who have been given a chance and taken it in the last coupld of seasons you only need to look at the emergence of Frimpong, Eastmond, Wilshere, Walcott and Gibbs. Sanchez Watt is another player making a name for himself on loan.

  • Pete

    Kieran wrote:
    If you want young English players at Arsenal who have been given a chance and taken it in the last coupld of seasons you only need to look at the emergence of Frimpong, Eastmond, Wilshere, Walcott and Gibbs. Sanchez Watt is another player making a name for himself on loan.

    You can add Jay Emmanuel Thomas to that list too mate :)

  • Pete

    And even though he’s technically Welsh and not English, Aaron Ramsey is another example of a good British home grown player.

  • walter

    I haven’t seen him (this new defender), but I’ve heard he’s very good from people that have. Let’s hope he’s a no nonsense hard-tackling shouting maniac in the Keown/Adams mould. And that the deal goes through of course…

  • walter

    what ever happened about the shares that were up for sale, thought kroenke and usmanov, would of been battling out for them by now.

  • dean

    Id like to clear this up for peole who dont really follow Ligue 1. Spahic was a top performer last year for montpellier, helping them finish fifth in the french. He was a lot of peoples surprise packages of the season, and some people, including Goal.com, had him in their team of the year. Based on form shown last year, Spahic would be in front of koscienly for a place in the starting eleven. He is experienced, strong, pacey and a stand out leader on the pitch. He also came third last year in equipes top ranking defenders, and i actually believe this guy will be more suited to our play than Mertersacker. So this IS the signing arsenal fans have been crying out for, they just dont know it yet. he played a lot in russia, most people have never heard of him, same reason we never heard of arshavin before Zenit won the uefa cup.

  • Goonerman

    How does everyone feel about a two left footed cb pairing? That’s my only real worry I know there are loads of right footed cb pairings but that’s the norm, I really like the right and left at cb it makes the defence much more balanced!

  • theusualsuspect

    wengers transfer dealings makes me laugh, its like when its obvious what flaws we have and he has to back track and sign someone he goes for unheard “gems” just so he can be seen as a genius when they turn out ok. Arshavin is the only player he has signed that was proven even then only in the russian league and that one run the russian team had. I hope koceilny and chamack turn out to be gems in the mould of vermaelen, sagna and henry rather than duds like cygan, denilson, almunia and senderos. Gallas i think was only signed because gallas wanted out and chelsea weren’t going to pay us what we wanted for ac. The latest two are another case in point some moldovan gk who is 23ish and a 29 year old defender. We’re so starved of proven players we start saying well “he was top defender in the french league” or “he’s highly rated in europe” wenger has us clutching at straws every summer. Whoever we sign i give my full support to and hope they are successful at afc. It would just be easier every summer for the fans if he signed someone we had heard of, rather than crossing our fingers at the start of every season wondering how the new signings will pan out.

  • theusualsuspect

    @kIERAN: Montpellier boss Rene Girard has suggested he is reluctant to allow Spahic to leave the club. Asked about the Arsenal rumours, he told Le Midi Libre: “I’m flabbergasted. There has never been any question of Emir’s departure.”

    He added, jokingly, that he would sell “if the English are willing to give us €25 million”.

  • walter

    I also read the post on Le Grove on Spahic and this was what you could call a typical form of desinformation from their part.
    I have checked the French internet sites and they were full of praise for him. I then checked my contact in Bosnia and in Bosnia Spahic is regarded as the most important player in the Bosnian team (mr. 50 %) and the fact that they did not get to the world cup was because of the fact that Spahic was banned from playing and so they lost it against Portugal at the end.

  • shane payne

    Kieran says on August 4th, 2010 at 1:56 pmSimpson has had all the chances in the world?? How do you work that out? How many first team games has he had. His attitude stinks? And you know this how? Aliadiere scored 1 goal in 6 years at Arsenal, now that was having every chance. Simpson is a promising player who has two faults, he is homegrown and English. Result exit door before you can Kaba Diawara. Do you lot ever blame Wenger for anything that happens at Arsenal.

  • shane payne

    Is there anyone still out there who is naive enough to believe that Wenger has any intention of making any quality signings. This transfer window is identical to so many that have preceded it. Wenger makes a lot of promises, Wenger goes into hiding working for French (who else) TV. The players report back for training and before you can say Bosman they are off to the bunker in Austria where they play the equivalent of non-league teams. Back for the Emirates Cup where Wenger tells the assembled masses that the player he most recently made captain is not leaving he is “convinced” they will stay, even though Vieira, Henry, Gallas, Fabregas all wanted/want to leave. Then we get the excuses, Oh “I believe…..” insert your own answer, “we don’t need new players”, “the present squad is strong enough”, “I don’t want to hold back Denilson’s career”. Then the countdown is on until Sept 1st. “We tried up until the last minute, but…..”. Then the Press Conference with the big grin and the relieved look, safe again. Drinks in the boardroom I did it again chaps, lied through my teeth and got away with it. It can only be Wenger, it just makes me laugh that people fall for it. We now have posters on here excited because we are linked with a Bosnian and a Moldovian. What is this club coming to?

  • andrew

    TWO LEFT FOOTED CENTRE BACKS:

    I don’t understand why many professional footballers can’t seem to kick with both feet!!! They are the best of the best. You’d think they’d practice with both feet until they were great at it. Sure, there might still be a stronger side or more accurate foot but overall, it shouldn’t be a problem to play two left-footed, or right-footed players together at all.

  • Kieran

    @ andrew:
    I do’t think there is a problem with two centre backs with the same strong foot. Many teams manage it and Arsenal did for years with Adams/Keown. But it is preferable to have a left and right footer – it’s the strongest possible combination.

  • Sam

    @ theusualsuspect; I bet you were complaining about signing Vermalen last summer too! No manager can have a 100% success rate in transfers, but AW has an unbelievable track record. He surely knows more than you & I.

  • vj

    guys to be honest im getting pretty worried about this season. Most people are talking about winning the title, im worried about top 4. I think Liverpool will be really good under hodgson with Cole Gerrard Torres Kuyt Aquilani, Johnson, Carrahger, Reina they have a decent line up. City also have lots of quality players. I think Tottenham will struggle considering they haven’t brought anyone in. I think apart from Wenger making some signings to give defensive stability we also need to be liverpool at Anfield to show that we really mean Business. Beating Hodgson at home was always a huge task when he was at Fulham (1-0 loss and 1-0 win) but at Anfield its going to be even harder. A win would give us comfort that we have prepared a title winning side

  • Kieran

    @ vj:
    I’m more worried about Chelsea. Ramires for 22m euros is a great deal for them. Him and Essien together, what a pair of engines.

  • goonerman

    @vj
    if your gonna have that kind of attitude before the season even starts then you might aswell give up and not support the team then becuase what do you have to look forward to this season if you dont believe the team can even get 4th place? joe cole gerrard and torres are class players but the likes of aquliani babel kuyt would not touch some of our first team players, maybe liverpool fans are saying how worried they are about our 2 world cup finalists cesc and van persie along with arshavin, nasri and chamackh!

    City may have quality individual players but does anyone know how a first 11 were up to 7 could have never played together competitivley are going to fair in the premier league, as much as a team is about talent it is far more about team spirit and an understanding between the players which is what arsenal, chelsea and man united have above all others.

  • goonerman

    Oh and im really nervous for today with cesc coming back, all i hope is that he does the exact same as torres and comes out to commit to the club! for him to come out an give mixed messages yet again would really disrupt the team and the club!

  • walter
  • vj

    @ goonerman:
    ur right goonerman, im not usually the kind of arsenal fan to doubt our quality but one can’t help wonder that maybe we are all hoping once again that everyone stays fit, and fabregas and van persie combine and can play at least 30 games together, and arshavin performes regularly, theo masters his final ball, wenger signs a GK and we don’t drop points because of GK fumbles, and we don’t concede goals because from free kicks and finally we don’t have another eduardo injury. Im just worried thatwe have a lot of if’s in our squad at the moment. Whereas Chelsea and Man U fans don’t really have that problem.

  • Yemi

    @ vj:
    Most of our if’s will be a thing of the past if we can get a Good goal keeper(not shwarzer, or the other 23yr old) and a good defender.

    but we actually do not have wingers cos wingers are supposed to put the ball in the box for the strikers. Arshavin and theo do not do that. I guess clichy is the only one who does that a bit and sagna once in a while

  • Kieran

    Where on earth does this myth come from that Manchester United and Chelsea don’t have weak players in their squad? United have an incredibly mediocre midfield with Fletcher, Carrick and Anderson, two old men and a perma-injured half german. Chelsea have strengthened but even they have Alex (poor) and Carvalho who had a terrible world cup.

  • Berth

    kieran your statement isn’t quiet true. Fletcher, Carvalho and Alex are very good and very very reliable. The two old men in united may be old but they re quiet efficient.

  • walter

    Fletcher mediocre? I thought he was their star player…he reminded m of flamini for us – crap 2 season ago and last season he turned it on

  • Kieran

    @ Berth:
    Alex is terrible – and I’m not sure what you think isn’t true about Carvalho – even the portugese media and manager decided he had a poor world cup.

    In any case Berth, Giggs and Scholes will both struggle to play major parts of United’s season the older they get and more susceptible to injury – my point is, they don’t really add much tangible strength or depth to a weak midfield squad.

    @ walter:
    Yes quite, Fletcher was Uniteds star midfielder – proves what a terrible midfield they have, certainly the weakest midfield any team under Ferguson has had.

  • bonathan

    just to confirm, alex is a top quality centre back and if carvalho had a bad world cup then i wouldn’t mind having someone in my defence who plays a major part in his team conceding just one goal in 4 world cup games when he’s playing bad.

  • Kieran

    Quite, so why when Arsenal are rumoured to be bringing in the experienced captain of Bosnia, a player who made the Ligue 1 team of the season, do Arsenal fans go mental and say he’s not right for Arsenal?

    Double standards.

  • Bonathan

    Probably because he plays for bosnia and made the ligue 1 team last season when his team reached the dizzy heights of 5th. His ‘experience’ is from that level. I thought the whole point of bringing in an experienced player was to get a player who has big game experience and possibly some success to show for it. Yes, of course wenger usually improves players somewhat, but this guy is 29.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean he’d be a bad signing and if it happens, we’l just hav to see. I think if wenger does sign him however, the main reason will be that he’s a lot cheaper. Having read what his club have been saying though, he won’t be going for cheap either so maybe that’s the last we hear of that!