Thoughts on re-claiming Zimbabwe – Post Bob

Thirteen thousand seven hundred and thirty-two (13,732) – Those are the number of days you exercised your draconian rule over us (give or take- you can never be accurate over such a long time) and had us rue our heritage as Zimbabwean. Former President, it is apt to say you were the PHAROAH of our time! To quote your own words, you are now our enemy because you really have behaved as an enemy of the Zimbabwean people. We are full of anger. Our entire provinces are angry and that is why we joined our military in solidarity against your prolonged tyranny. We cannot help but feel shortchanged by your administration and rightfully so. First you stole our liberation dream that fateful day in April 1980. You were a sadistic and rationally calculative warmonger, who took advantage of our then naïve people’s faith in you. You alienated our faith and ignited our anger when you schemed to consolidate power for yourself by successfully overseeing barbaric acts of opponent intimidation and elimination. Away from the public gaze of the then little developed world, you conducted massacres against your own people – with many killed and raped  – God bless their souls while many more were beaten by your militaristic apparatus.

As the age of globalization dawned, you again calculatedly divorced us from the outside world. Planning several moves ahead, you made us a recluse and isolated people. To this we say shame shame shame on you. You pulled us out of the interstate system driven by ideals of collective human will as you were bent on seeing us suffer and psychologically confine us from the world yet the best cultures and countries in the world survive on a give and take basis.  As a result, Zimbabwe had remained stagnant for large chunks of your rule. Year on year your ailing figure embarrassed us at international conferences were your trademark became the occasional slumber – you ought to copyright that. If it was not your naps when you were senile that embarrassed us, it was your craving to always be the cleverest man in the room at International meets that become our scourge – my word you were arrogant.

Admittedly, some of your reforms at home single handedly improved our standing as individual people. Your health and education policies stand to be commended as through them the nation dined on the literacy table for decades – which endures still. In some respects, it was fitting and somewhat appropriate that in your last public act as President, apart from your botched resignation of course; was the capping off of graduates. However, former president you introduced to us a truly bizarre system in which the exponential increase in education does not correspond to equitable levels of employment. Countless graduates have, for decades past been produced from higher education institutions. In many ways, your model former President was idiosyncratic as the will to educate was opposed to the will to invest that human capital knowledge to develop the country. Even your legacy in education then takes a major hit as you successfully presided over the bastardization of the entire education system during your tenure.

GO WELL OUR JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER…THE PHAROAH OF OUR TIME!!!

 TO FELLOW ZIMBABWEANS…

If events of the last week or so have taught us anything, it is that what bind us is greater than that which divides us. Our rallying cry on Saturday the 18th of November will go down as a watershed in the history of our continued search of our liberal rights. As Malcom X says, our lives begin to end the day we begin to be silent about the things that matter to us. Going forward, freedom of expression should become a mainstay of our lived realities and not reduced to the modicum we came to know. In many ways, we also have to acknowledge how we were complicit in our own subjugation without ever considering how the power dynamics lie at the behest of us as people. But like any great enterprise, canvassing for our liberties will need sacrifices and this is something we must be cognizant of – we cannot have our cake and eat it as well, all while those who seek to deny us our fundamental rights look on. The full extent of those sacrifices will remain to be seen with the furlong our new administration hands us.

Essentially however, one lesson to take away from all this remains that it is us the people who lobby for our freedom – our outpouring can no longer be done in an ad hoc capacity- it is not a switch we switch ‘on’ and ‘off’ but should be conspicuously present in our way of life be it in our communities, the workplace, the public space- it must exist and be ingrained in not just some of us, but in all of us. As Obama reminds us:

        “I agree with George W. Bush when in his second inaugural address he                                    proclaimed a universal desire to be free. But there are few examples in                                  history in which the freedom men and women crave is delivered through                             outside intervention. In almost every successful social movement of the                                 last century, from Gandhi’s campaign against British rule to the Solidarity                             movement in Poland to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa,                                     democracy was the result of a local awakening”.

However, one essential elements going forward is the sacrifice of our apathy in search of something greater. Let us blend together values of togetherness, banding together and pulling in the same direction in spite of our political convictions, levels of education, gender and religious or cultural persuasions. Saturday revived all our hope, all our patriotism and our sense of belonging. We thronged on the streets in our hundreds of thousands in all towns, cities and provinces, with an objective purpose and unity not seen since the Chimurenga wars and which had been systematically denied since. As Independence goes, the 18th of November will live on as the day we found ourselves, the day we found our age long muted voice; a quintessential freedom of expression- that is the reality we created for ourselves, and one that we must always live up to. Lets face it, it cannot get any worse than we had it and if anything, the beauty of life s not in ever falling but in rising everytime we fall. Fellow Zimbabweans, we have the land, we have the requisite education, we have the tolerance, the endurance and the will to succeed; and after years on a sojourn, we are now ripe to spread our wings and sore towards greater foreseeable heights.

TO OUR LEADERS…

Pursuant to Vladmir Illich Lenin, “there are decades where nothing happens; and there are days when decades happen”. It is ironic that Robert Gabriel Mugabe, a self prophessed Lenin-Marxist, failed to see how his  decades of tyranny would infact catch up with him, or atleast ignored it; again an example of how much oversight comes with too much power when it is confered upon one person. To our army, we woke up to the manful face of Major General S.B Moyo, telling us that the situation in our country had ‘risen to another level’ but urged us to exercise calmness. Even as military songs came on screen being repeated every hour, the routinely and monotonously boring State Television became even more  eyesore but this did not matter to us as it dawned that our military was finally sorting out things for us. Our patriotism was rekindled as we hummed in sync with the military songs that took each of us on a jog down memory lane and really served as a contactanation of our heritage and creed as Zimbabweans.

To our saviour, General Constatino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga; words cannot begin to describe our warmth and affection towards you. November 21 of 2017 which came about because of your decisiveness and command makes the dire 37 years we have been subjected to somewhat worth it. You gave us more liberty in one day that we have had in 4 decades; then gave us more joy than can be found in any one place on the 21st. We are forever indebted to you our general. Through your decisive action, you managed to redeem our faith in our security elements and ultimately in our leadership. As far as our leaders go, your resolute military intervention showed us that should our leaders at all levels of governments and in institutions and industries really want to exert and apply themselves, they can stop the rot as anything is possible in this motherland of ours and Godwilling, we can reach dizzy heights seldom thought of before.

All we want is a sound and effervescent domestic policy that caters for every Zimbabwean, those of us without a seat at the high table. At the time of writing this, the latest Corruption Perception Index ranks Zimbabwe as the 154th least corrupt nation out of 168 nations. In other words, on a scale on which the rate of corruption increases the further a country is down the list, Zimbabwe is tied 14th for corruption in the world and is the 2nd most corrupt nation in the Southern African bloc only to Angola. To put this into perspective, while the statistics and media do not highlight it or may be dismissed as unrepresentative, the situation on the ground wreaks remnants of a country embroiled in civil war; one in which a burgeoning informal sector and corruption are akin. These are gory statistics which tell their own story as to how we can go about in our re-building process.

We also require a basic societal and economic structure that is predictable and dependable in order to finally give us the security and assurances we crave. With a backdrop disillusioned due to the countless emigrations our country has witnessed, we also require our administration to be the guarantors of our citizenship in order to lessen the impact of seclusion and displacements. Internationally, any gains we make will be gainful as we had been secluded from the rest of the world. More acutely however, we demand an honorable peace abroad as our signpost for all nations of the world. We look forward to you repairing relations with other great nations of the world in order to rubber-stamp our return to the global community. After 37 years in the proverbial wilderness, you can understand when we say we do not have the luxury, as citizens, communities, industries, and various sectors to undergo the same abusive and toxic administration of the past regime. True to your own words Mr President, you have to “hit the ground running” and with the new lease of life in our people and hopefully in you, we except you to ‘hit the ground running’ with us citizens firmly behind you. Certainly if your speech was anything to read along, you are quite in-touch with reality. Your ability to appreciate that in today’s global world ‘there is no isolation that is splendid’ highlights this awareness. Indeed, for many Zimbabweans we share these sentiments, as any ‘splendor’ which isolation held for Zimbabwe was becoming less and less visible. As a people, as a nation, we have not known a leader we have loved and cherished for generations; so we have so much love to give and are itching to exhibit all our love for our new administration.

TO THE CONTINENT AND THE WORLD BEYOND OUR BORDERS…

Zimbabwe is a small land locked country in Southern Africa whose climate is predominantly savanna. Yet, in all its physical and most recently, ideological barriers that serve as an impeding force in its engagement with the outside world, it is ironic that Zimbabwean’s are spread everywhere on the planet. Today, more than ever, no individual can fail to identify Zimbabwe on a map. There is no country in the world that can claim to be bereft of a Zimbabwean and this has made our fate intrinsically tied to all nations of the world. This is testament to the will of our people to engage in the world, and their unebbing curiosity of the world around them and their place within it. To the world over, we thank you! In our hour of need, you welcomed us in our throngs- you sustained us under the blanket of your protection though with no legal obligation to. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, USA, United Kingdom, China, Canada, Australia, France –all countries some further to home and others far more distant. Many countries were also formed during our slumber from the international domain. Millennial countries like Montenegro (2006), Serbia (2006), South Sudan (2011), Kosovo (2008) and Timo-Leste (2002), accept our belated welcome to your appearance on the International stage.

It would perhaps be presumptuous to suggest that our experiences are transferable to any other country. We are afterall unique in our history, culture, geography and driving conflicts. Yet however, Zimbabwe serves as a useful metaphor for the world beyond our borders- a world that never meets anyone halfway, a world were children have zero possibilities the minute they are born; a world in which there is undying consternation  and a nostalgic relationship with our colonial past; one in which there are binary assumptions between the existence of order and tranquility in ushering in a protracted rebirth as opposed to a real praxis driven, often frenzied engagement in achieving the same. We represent the hope of newly found nationhood and the extinguishing flame that brings despair begging the question of ‘where did it go wrong’? One in which increasing aloofness sought for supposed security and whose rationality in arguing for this takes a different form between eras- in avoidance of neo-colonialism they said, to shore up our borders, they said; to fortify our economy they said- all rationalizations devoid of a kernel of truth. A world which invests so much in man- man who is mystified and given demi-god status, placing man on a pedestal yet failing to appreciate the contradiction implicit in perfection in any system build by man. And finally, within regions and continents, the story of Zimbabwe is an all too familiar case of history repeating itself – as the world changes, so we must change with it.

To our relatives, friends and family, spread across oceans and continents, you went over and above in propping us economically and socially. Your remittances were the lifeblood that kept us afloat and ticking over. To most abroad, you sacrificed amassing wealth and properties for yourself in order to sustain us and that is a mark of our indelible true Zimbabwean way of togetherness – “ubunthu”. We are eternally grateful! We are forever indebted to your tireless efforts in single-handedly sustaining individuals, families, communities and even the larger societal structures.

It is significant that the inauguration of the new President saw foreigners flocking in from all walks of life. If anything, this is symbolic of our new, though always present desire, to engage in the world. We spread our arms welcoming all great and emerging nations of the world to this great country of ours, which for too long has been stuck in the doldrums.  I was there when we welcomed dozens of foreigners for the inauguration. In a cruel twist of irony, we anticipate that nations people’s will be trickling in from the newly named Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport- developments surely enough to make the former president turn in his grave- if such a time ever arrives.

FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS…

As a nation, we are at crossroads for the first time in 37 years. This is the most significant episode not only in our experiences as Zimbabwean’s but also of overarching resonance in modern Africa as we know it. At such a juncture then, we will do well as a nation to learn from our former mistakes. However, while we hold half an eye on progress, at least 3 things should remain relevant if we are to truly chart a successful blueprint for our great nation.

First, is religion, which has been important in structuring individual and collective wills. The general consensus is that religion has had a key role to play in Zimbabwe and this has coincided with the country’s economic and social malaise. In particular and more tellingly, when it comes to the Pentecostal persuasion, Zimbabwe is home to the largest number of followers in Southern Africa. Karl Marx thought of religion as the opium of the suppressed masses – a quick fix that was meant to temporarily serve as a reprieve for them given their objective condition of suffering. It is evident therefore that the burgeoning growth and strong institutional presence of Pentecostalism and religious belief as a whole, tallies with the dire economic and social climate we had been subjected to since people seek an interpretation of their place within their social world. Going forward given the anticipated national revival at all levels (political, economic, social and scientific) it is crucial that links with religious leaders at institutional levels as well as a general civil religiosity is maintained since religion has played a defining role in our strife. To abandon both would be to lose our driving propensity and sense of orientation as a people.

Secondly, any murmur of progressiveness would be incomplete unless we various diaspora activists, leaders and captains of industry are brought into the whole rebuilding phase. In a sense, the country is still afloat because of the diaspora’s efforts in sustaining families and communities as already alluded. Hence, going forward, they should be given their space as they are stakeholders in the transition process. Linked to the above, the nation’s youth need to be incorporated in the rebuilding phase also. Our nation is blessed with industrial and learned youth segments, who are progressive in their thinking and if anything else, they should be incorporated to chart and redesign a new path to prosperity because the future, which most genuinely dreaded, belongs…to them!

Advertisements

ARSÈNE WENGER’S SWANSONG – MORE THAN A SONG, IT’S AN ENTIRE PLAYLIST.

Arsène always said that he would leave it upon others to write the chapters of his history and how he would be remembered in football conversations. I was reluctant to write this piece at first when hearing about his decision to retire. What could I possibly write about the great man without sounding like a broken Sam Smith ‘Stay with me’ record, I’d ask myself? Everything had already been said, I would tell myself.  Coupled with the familiar sense of malaise this season has petered out into following the familiar failings in Europe, there was no way I would be conjuring up anything meaningful to write. Yet however, Wenger as he always does seemingly puts everything out there and offers us endless novice scripts to write. In one of the many  interviews, the boss was in form, Wenger talks about how he bequeaths upon himself the responsibility to present the image football has and that of the club. He talks of football as a celebration each week that should capture the imagination of expectant fans every Sunday. As a rule of thumb, the manager’s suit and tie has always to be present in order to capture the essence of this cultural celebration. On a bright Sunday afternoon in North London, clad in an impeccable slim suit, tie and grey cardigan (enough to make Justin Timberlake proud), Wenger appeared past the Emirates tunnel for the last time to a rousing welcome by fans and a guard of honour formed by Arsenal and Burnely players. This was Arsène Wenger as we have always known him, walking looking elegant as ever. We were in Arsène’s world now, the last script in act he would extend.

Yet, in his 228th  and final match presiding at home for The Arsenal, Wenger would persuade me to write this piece still, which in many ways epitomized the great allure of the man in carrying everyone alone with him in his vision at any given time. And so, just like the players had to win the Europa League for him, I also HAVE to write this for him in order to send him off the right way now, in my mind and conscience at least. He stood there, in the Emirates, the Stadium he built, at the center with red and white emblazoning the surrounding 60,000 (or to be exact, 59, 867) terraces sprawling all around him. It was Arsène Wenger in a nutshell! A man who is at the epicenter of Arsenal’s history, a man whose very name bears a fortuitous but perhaps symbolic resonance with this great club. With 2 games in his tenure left, Wenger has contributed to 16% of Arsenal’s history as well as 40% of the clubs silverware. Incredibly, Arsène Wenger has also accounted for 26% players to have played for Arsenal in the 132 year history. His place in Arsenal’s annals of history was summed up by a catchy insert in the Arsenal match programme notes that were Wenger to lose Arsenals next 100 games, he would still be the Arsenal manager with the highest win percentage of all managers! I turned 25 on Saturday, the 5th of May. Ever since I was a boy, Arsène is the only Arsenal manager I have known during my formative years and my transition to a man. Wenger and the Emirates have been one, one like the earth and sky for 22 years but their journey was at its end in this moment.

As he stood there, he began with an affective remark that oozed everything Arsène represents. In a classy dash, he remembered his greatest rival cum ally putting him first on a day that was his own yet bereft of any ego. He was striking all the right notes early. God knows how many times Wenger in his 22 years at the ‘club of his life’ has machinated ways to finish ahead of Sir Alex and yet, on the occasion of his last ever opportunity to flaunt by pumping out his chest and have the whole world feast in admiration at his resplendent career in management, he reduced himself to merely an appendage. The greatest Arsenal games and moments under Arsène have always been renowned for their Class and having an appreciation of both History and Tradition written all over them. Poignantly, these were all evident here.

Full credit to the Premier League for recognizing Wenger’s achievement to English football and football as a whole by presenting him with a replica of the Golden Premier League trophy he won in 2004. Wenger had admitted last week at Old Trafford that he had been taken aback by the presentation given to him by Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. By his own admittance, it was the first time in his long enduring career that he had won a trophy before playing the game. This time however, this trophy presentation was far more serious, as it captured his contribution to the footballing landscape. Professing in 2003 of his hypothesis that he could win the Premier League undefeated, he only went and did it a year later in 2004! That year Arsenal stats read Played 38 Won 26 Drawn 12 Lost 0, heralding the moniker the Invincibles, which would inspire a generation. Wenger held the blueprint detailing how football should be played and was always c omitted to winning in style which he views as the responsibility of the biggest clubs. So it was fitting that this ideologue of free flowing, expressive and powerful football be recognized not just sentimentally or ceremonial, as had been the case at Old Trafford, but historically for his genuine laying down of a theory which he empirically verified through a swashbuckling brand of football along the way.

In many ways, this trophy presentation is a quintessential expression of Wenger as a man and as a manager in terms of his name being remembered long after he last guided a team to a title win. It backs up his claim that the ‘Biggest clubs have a responsibility to play with style’. It was this style but also substance, which was in admiration at the Emirates on Sunday and this ensured that even at his nadir, Wenger had done it again as the adulation and above all, the respect still entrusted in him because of his achievements remains intact. Many a time, Arsène has been consigned to defeat by his past – Robin Van Persie and Francesc Fabregas exemplify this. But there would be none of that here, this time his past was his meal ticket back to his zenith; where he belongs, were he has always belonged. In such a moment still, as he held the Gold Trophy aloft for the Emirates oval to see, the lyrics by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus ‘Don’t You Fake it’ seemed only too appropriate at the time. Arsène was teleported back to the best days of his life and one must wonder if he, for a split second at least, regretted leaving Highbury and being more egoistical rather than embarking on a new project when he was poised to genuinely build a dynasty of dominance in English football.

On a lesser note, it was noticeable that club legend Thierry Henry was never at the Emirates. His is a man who once referred to Arsène as being ‘like a father’ to him, so being absent in paying his last respects to the person who helped him become the person he is today is quite a turnaround. There was chatter that Sky Sports wanted him in Manchester were City were being presented with the Premier League trophy, but early signs point to it being a premeditated snub by Henry on this behemoth of a man. It would make it the second snub Henry has dealt to Wenger, again for Pep Guardiola. He did it in 2007 when he chose Pep over Wenger, and became the prodigal son when Wenger re-signed him in 2012 to allow him to further his legend at the club.  To do it once is understandable, but to do it twice, even given the different worldviews between Wenger and Henry does not sit right and is short of treachery. The Arsenal fans did their bit by leaving no vacuum in the football stadium, the ex-players, many of whom Henry played with did their bit; with Nwakuo Kanu even flying in all the way from Nigeria, I have done my piece! As fans and as players, we were all aware of our individual and collective responsibilities for Wenger’s big send-off bash. But why wasn’t Henry aware of his? He is the clubs Legend and he should have been there period. He is the one whom I grew up idolizing. I drew him racing past Puyol in Paris when I was 13. He is the one name who you wanted to get printed at the back of your Arsenal shirt. He is the standard bearer for all of Arsenals #14s. And oh hey, he even has his statue outside the stadium which was put there off Wenger’s insistence. Why on such a day could he not recognize the responsibility implicit in his status as the clubs outright legend is anyone’s guess? Even Jeremy Aliadiere was there paying his homage to Arsène. Surely, in this instance this shows that availability is greater than ability. When it was announced he would not be attending, deep down I hoped that the ‘little boy inside him’ I remember who had afro hair would sway him to be part of this mighty send-of, but instead, what we got was the rational, calculated and premeditated snub by the afro-bearded man. A case of Wenger defeated by his past again perhaps?

Arsène Wenger loves his players. That was on show again on Sunday when he put the focus off of him and  urged supporters to rally behind the players, who in in his own words are ‘a special group’; next season. After a week were Arsenal lost a semi-final in Madrid, meaning the players had not done enough to ensure their manager left with silverware for this season, this was classic Wenger- defending his players to the guillotine, to the very end. However, it is a sad indictment that Arsène’s lot in life appears to be that of a man that always sticks rather than twist and this invariably comes back to hurt him. As Henry showed through his snub and as many players have been questioned over in the last decade. There appears to be a deep sited culture at Arsenal that rewards only the players but not the manager, specifically, not Arsène. Henry leaving Wenger exposed on his day of days is perhaps indicative of the current Arsenal’s players own shortcomings as there is a general conception that they do nearly enough to repay the trust that this idyll manager has in them, and for which he has been openly criticized. We now know the truth Arsène!

Arsenal and Arsène are the only club and manager I will love unconditionally. This club has guided me through some of my best [and worst] moments as an individual. Yet, one will stick to memory forever. Arsenal, for some reason always seem to go hand in hand with my mood. In this instance, I was 18 years old and writing my GCE A’ Levels. It was the 2011/12 season, and for that period during October – November, Arsenal propelled me through my strenuous examinations. Our match days read:

16 October 2011; Arsenal- Sunderland (2-1)

19 October 2011; Marseille – Arsenal (0-1)

23 October 2011; Arsenal – Stoke (3-1)

25 October 2011; Arsenal – Bolton (2-1)

29 October 2011; Chelsea – Arsenal (3-5)

1 November 2011; Arsenal – Marseille (0-0)

5 November 2011; Arsenal – West Brom (3-0)

19 November 2011; Norwich – Arsenal (1-2)

23 November 2011; Arsenal – Dortmund (2-1)

That was it. I was done with my exams. 11 papers in 33 hours and my team had played 9 matches over that period winning 8 and drawing the 1 – the perfect tonic. As I am someone whose reading and understanding was contingent on my mood, Arsenal played a big part in my final results which read 2 A*’s, 2 A’s 1B. It is these moments were football and life under Arsène Wenger seamlessly intertwined. It was an ethereal experience, as if my team was somewhat rooting for me as I was rooting for it- a beauty which Wenger speaks of when he talks about how football is at is most beautiful when disparate people unite to express a common idea. This transcends not just the players on the pitch but resonates within all us who hold Arsenal dear, we feel it, ‘the vibration is there’ Arsène. I am certain every Arsenal fan all the world over has experienced them and knows what I am talking off – those bigger than life moments that left you in a rarefied universe were you take the best of Arsène Wenger’s teams. I certainly failed it in those testing months, as a mystical fiery like force that fueled my examination bid. It is at such moments that any Ode to Arsène echoes what most of us think – which is that he made us all believe that we too could be Invincible. And so goals by van Persie & van Persie; Ramsey; Gervinho, van Persie, van Persie; Arshavin, Park; van Persie, Santos, Walcott, van Persie & van Persie [hat trick]; van Persie, Vermaelen, Arteta; van Persie & van Persie; van Persie & van Persie – meant my bond with this particular Wenger team was struck.

Thank you for the players Arsène. For Seaman, Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn, Keown, Viera, Merson, Platt, Hartson and Ian Wright. Thank you for Parlour, Bergkamp, Garde, Morrow, Lukic, Linighan, Shaw, McGowan, Marshall, Hughes and Rose. Thank you for Harper, Selley, Anelka, Petit, Boa Morte, Wreh, Crowe, Vernazza and Manninger. We thank you Arsène for Mendez, Upson, Muntasser, Rankin, Diawara, Vivas, Ljungberg, Riza, Grondin, Caballero and Michael Black. We thank you for Kanu, Luzhny, Silvinho, Henry, Suker, Malz, Cole, Tommy Black, Weston, Pennant and Barret. Thank you for Gray, McGovern, Lauren, Pires, Wiltord, Canoville, Taylor, Volz, Stepanovs, Danilevicius and Edu. Thanks for Sol Campbell, van Bronckhorst, Jeffers, Inamoto, Richard Wright, Halls, Itonga, Ricketts, Tavlaridis, Aliadiere and Svard. Thanks for Juan, Gilberto Silva, Toure, Cygan, Garry, Shaaban, Bentley, Hoyte, Lehmann, Stack and Spicer. Thank you for Jerome Thomas, for Quincy Owusu-Adeyie, Clichy, for Fabregas, Ryan Smith, Simek, Skulason, Papadopulos, Reyes, for Mathieu ‘yellow card’ Flamini and van Persie. Thanks for Larsson, Karbassiyoon, Djorou, Almunia, Lupoli, Senderos, Cregg, Eboue, Hleb, Stokes, Muamba and a Song. Thanks Arsène for Lord Bendtner, Gilbert, Diaby, Adebayor, for the Little Mozart Rosicky, for ‘sign da ting’ Walcott, Baptista, Gallas, Connolly and Denilson. We thank you for Randall, Traore, Matt Poom, Sagna, Eduardo, Diarra, Fabianski, Merida,Barazite, Gibbs, Lansbury and Carlos ‘chip’ Vela. We thank you for Mr F.A Ramsey, for Nasri, Vela, for Wilshere, Coquelin, Gavin Hoyte, Jay Simpson, Silvestre, Bischoff, Fonte, and Rodgers. Thank you for Mannone, four goal salvo Arshavin, Vermaelen, Sunu, Szczesny, Watt, Eastmond, Bartley, Cruise, Chamakh, for Koscielny, Squillaci and Emmanuel-Thomas. Thanks Arsène for Frimpong, Miquel, Henderson, for Gervinho, Jenkinson, the Ox, Arteta, for Benayoun and for the Big Friendly German. We thank you for Andre Santos, Aneke, Miyaichi, Ozyakup, for Park Chu-Young, Boateng, Yennaris and Santi Cazorla. Thank you for Mr ‘Bullet header’ and Scorpion King Giroud, for Podolski, Angha, Gnabry and Martinez, Eisefield, Meade, Sanogo, Akpom and for Nacho. Thanks you for Mesut Ozil, Olsson, for Bellerin, Hayden, Joel Campbell, Chambers, Zelalem, Kim Kallstrom and Debuchy. Thanks Arsène for the red one red hot Chilean Alexis, for ‘that guy’ Welbeck and Ospina, Maitland-Niles, O’Connor, Gabriel , Iwobi and ’15 points a season’ Cech. Thanks for Kamara, Bannacer, Bielik, Reine-Adelaide, for Elneny, Holding and Xhaka, for Mustafi, Perez and Chris Willock. We forever thank you for Alexander Lacazette, Kolasinac, Reiss Nelson, Dasilva, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and McGuane. For Sheaf, Macey and with thanks for Mavrapanos, Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang!

For the banners – In Arsène We Trust. Football Should Be an Art. Class, History Tradition. Le Professeur. One Arsène Wenger! Forever in your debt Arsène Wenger. Arsenals Greatest Manager. For the memories of That Bergkamp goal against Newcastle, Walcott Hat tricks, Henry kissing the turf at Highbury, the 7-3 vs. Newcastle, Welbeck’ comeback goal against Leicester, being a victim of ageism, shoving Josè, for the Scorpion kick, Giroud’s beard, Henry’s beard for Petit, Seaman and Bellerin’s ponytails, Coquelin and Santi pivot, Ozil hat trick in Bulgaria, Girouds hat trick in Piraeus, for Bergkamp’s goal vs. Leicester and his testimonial at the Emirates. Memories of the Emirates Cup wins, playing Napoli, Atletico Madrid, Porto and Benfica in the Emirates cup. For Pizza gate, introducing a new diet and lasagna gate. The £40 million pounds + £1 pound.  Cech vs. Bayern, that performance at the Etihad, the Ox’s Wembly bullet for giving us Xhaka-Laca. The initiation songs, losing your voice, the 7-5 at Reading, Giroud and Coquelin throwing their shirts away before time, Chamakh’s hair gel. Building the Emirates, Islington town council, for JVC, Kanu’s hattrick, Pires North London record, the glorious exits. Henry not losing a North London Derby, beating Josè for the first time Adams drinking problem, Freddie’s pink hair, Zlatan does not do trials, I nearly signed Ronaldo. The laps of honour – 22 of them. Dreamcast, Arteta’s perfect hair. He scores when he wants, he scores when he wants, Robin Van Persie, he scores when he wants. Arsenal Centurions, Wright eclipsing Bastian, Henry eclipsing Wright, Henry’s curler in Slavia Prague, Bergkamp becoming a centurion, Henry’s run against Spurs, Henry side-stepping one and side-stepping two vs. Liverpool on Easter Friday, Walcott and Giroud Centurions, Nasri’s goals vs. Fulham, RVPs century Arshavins 4-goal salvo, Wiltoooooooooord! Adams vs. Everton, Vieira’s penalty kick, the last minute goals, O2, Henry’s header vs. Man United in the Emirates, Henry scores v. Bathez from a throw-in, Henry’s free kick v. Chelsea, Henry 0 goals in finals, van Persie’s volleys, Songs lifts it up for van Persieeeeeeee, Adebayor vs. Spurs, Ramsey circa 2013/14, the three 1nil wins at Old Trafford, Adebayooooor, Overmars; Vantastic. Rosicky goals v. Spurs, I tried to watch their game from my hotel but I fell asleep. Aubameyang’s first goal and Lacazette’s second touch against Leicester. Hlebs runs, playing Ramsey at right wing, playing Wilshere at right wing. Overmars, van Bronckhorst, Henry, Hleb, Cesc, Song, Vermaelen to Barca, the double fist celebrations, Sagna’s thumping header v. Spurs winning 6-1 at Everton, that night in Paris, Campbell header, the Red Card, first English side to win in the Bernabeu, 4-2-3-1, the thumbs up to the fans after defeat that night v. Swansea. Giroud’s acrobatics at Selhurst, Fabregas playing Vieira off the park, Lehmann’s penalty save, the clean sheets, beating Juventus, beating Milan at the San Siro, the free kicks, Henry’s Hattrick in Rome. The struggle to finish 4th, Fly Emirates, dressing room selfies. RVP smashing one past Valdez Koscielny closing day goals to secure fourth, that Gibbs tackle at West Brom, Koscienly’s goal v. Southampton, signing Alexis Sanchez from a beach in Rio, for the successive 5-1 defeats to Bayern, the vava voom, the one man stand at Old Trafford, van. Persie flying at Charlton, that van Persie left foot, Rosicky’s turns and acceleration, Vermaelen’s leaps, Giroud’s bullet headers, Walcott’s run at Anfield, Santi’s ambidextrous dancing feet, Ozil’s vision, Denilson’s samba dance, Vela’s lobs, Girouds side footed one touch finishes, Nicolas Anelka’s addition, Baptista’s 4-goal salvo. Ramsey’s pile driver at Galatasaray. Coining the term ‘financial doping’. Bellerin’s run against Bayern. The trophy drought, Drogba the scourge of Arsenal, Diaby v. Villa, 70th minute substitutions, Keown and van Nistelrooy, Keane and Vieira, Wenger and Fergie, Arsenal and Manchester United.  Beating Josè for the second time. Winning trophies again, Fabianski’s heroics, touchline bust-ups. Santi Cazorla chooses the perfect time to score his first free kick for Arsenal, Ramsey winner, Pires’ assists, Cesc’s assists, Ozil assisting, Henry’s assist record. The number 10’s, Xhaka a deep lying number 10. Santi a 10. Ramsey at 10 playing 8. Wilshere a 10 behind the 10. Mkhitaryan a 10 off the wing. Ozil a ten in the hole, Iwobi a 10 that drift. It’s a world of tens.  10-2 vs. Bayern. Back at Wembly again, the community shield, charity finals. 4 Back to back FA Cups, the 3 at the back (3atb), winning against all the odds. Chelsea 3 – van Persie 3….Arsenal 5 at Stamford Bridge, Per’s lack of pace exposed, Arteta’s goal against City, Welbeck at Old Trafford, Ozils free kick vs. Liverpool, Giroud turning Kolo Toure. Ray Parlour’s cup winner, another Ramsey cup winner. Eddie Nketiah’s brace. Never winning the League Cup – Worthington cup, Coca-Cola cup, Carling Cup, Capital One Cup, EFL Cup, the Carabao Cup in its various guises. Xhaka’s ferocious shot, Wilshere dominating Xavi and Iniesta. Predicting the first £100 million transfer Podolski the fan favorite, Walcott on a stretcher taunting Spurs fans, Wilshere at the parade taunting Spurs fans, back to back 5-2, , competing with oil money. Nurturing the kids. Your dignity, your humility, your 222 players, your 7 FA Cups, the double Double, the Gold Trophy, your 49 games, Henry’s 228 goals, Wengerball on display vs. Norwich, Giroud flick, Wilshere’s goal. For Sanchez 4-goals salvo at West Ham, his chip vs. Chelsea, Sanchez false 9, Fabregas at false 9, Fabregas’ goals v. Villa when carrying an injury and on as a sub, Walcott’s first goal at Wembly, Henry’s comeback goal vs. Leeds, Koscielny lets in Obafemi Martins, Henry’s goal at Sunderland, Arshavins brace vs. Blackburn, struggling against Bolton, beating Stoke every time at home, Ramsey scoring vs. Stoke Faith in Almunia, re-signing Lehmann, Spurs finishing 3rd in a 2 horse race. Bottling at Wigan. Cech’s penalty save. Being ruthless with Szczesny, signing France 98’ top scorer Davo Suker. The 4-4 at St James’, Anfield, the Emirates, the 3-3 at Anfield and the Emirates, the 4-3 defeat and 4-3 win on opening days. Cech’s cleansheet record. Playing with the handbrake on, tying Ozil down, the opening day defeats. Lord Bendtner better than Messi, Henry vs. Inter, the word ‘Dench’, signing an injured player in January, signing Mkhitaryan in January, Aubameyang the partying gift. The slip at Stoke, kicking water bottles, the 8-2, the rivalry with the zipper, I didn’t see it, the excuses, blaming the referee’s, saying look-aarr in the press conferences, your perfect hair, Captain Vermaelen, Captain Arteta, Captain Mertesacker, She wore a yellow ribbon and Wembly. Signing Ozil on deadline day, physically we were a bit short. Make Arsenal great again, P38 W26 D12 L0. The French Revolution era, the deadwood. The Spanish tiki-taka era, Japanese Sumo, the efficient German era. The ‘British Core’ – Ramsey, Wilshere, Jenkinson, Walcott, Oxlade-Chambelain. RVP’s curler v. Spurs. Bit coin deal, impeccable on the match day!

Arsène Wenger, for chairing the AGMs, having a name fitting and somewhat appropriate for the club, for treating the club as your own and being criticized for doing so, for being the boss, for putting on hold your family life, for being a permanent male figure in our lives, for berating the fourth officials, for scratching your hair on the bench, for your head in hands moment at Anfield, for playing with your lips at the Amex, for your stunning career, for penny-pinching, for loving a bargain, for being a gifted orator for being French, for being an Economist, for speaking 7 languages, for wearing glasses, for being an Arsenal fan, for the humor, for capturing our imagination, for cementing your legacy, for being our greatest ever manager, for being an incredible human being and a gentleman, for being our legend, for instilling the club culture, for the values and traditions, for your integrity, for your dedication, for the complete commitment, for the energy, for your passion, for your loyalty, for the competence, for serving with sincerity, for the idealism, for your faith, for your purist ideas, for your perfection, for handling yourself with class, for giving us Wengerball, for masterminding the Emirates, for the 4th place finishes, for  22 years, for 21 full seasons, for qualifying for the Champions League for 18 consecutive seasons, for managing 1235 games, for 706 wins, 476 Premier League victories, for 1560 goals scored in the Premier League and 2,298 overall; for 10 major trophies won, for the Golden Boots and Golden Gloves, for being the most successful manager in FA Cup History, for the back to back FA Cups, for the double Double, for the 49 unbeaten and for turning mere mortals into INVINCIBLES, we say to you that for these and other things, FOR EVERYTHING Merci Arsène; Thank You Arsène Wenger!

The memory of Wenger as the star attraction on show in his own stadium will be one for the ages. With his high notes, he danced his way into our hearts for the umpteenth and final time. And he did so in front of the fans and former players who abused him, vilified him and had disrespected him, some confronted him in an alien form. As he stood in the center of the Emirates with the crowd surrounding him, Arsène bore shades of a dancer pirouetting within the eye of the storm, therefore not being moved or overwhelmed by the gravitas of the occasion – only he would have been the man for such an occasion. Arsenal’s heritage is inspired by the motto ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’, which is Latin for ‘Victory Comes from Harmony’. This meant that there would be no One Man Stands for Arsène in his house this time as the Emirates, in quite picturesque fashion, arose to salute its greatest ever manager serenaded with chants of ‘One Arsène Wenger’ and rightfully so. Shades of nostalgia were creeping in, tightening its grip as well as a sense of what could have been. Jim Croce captures the mood superbly when he sings, “Time in a bottle”. From 1997-2005, Wenger built a footballing machine, which, at its apex culminated in the Invincibles. Yet for most of us, we took this for granted thinking it would remain a given that Arsenal and Arsène would continue sweeping all before them – if only we could save that time in a bottle and recreate it again! But as Wenger came out and said, not all love stories have a happy ending and that in itself is footballs timeless currency- on the one hand fantasy, beyond fantasy and on the other; dismay and disappointments. As Arsenal enter an uncharted territory, there is a new script to be had. Posterity will hail Wenger as the greatest Arsenal manager that ever was. But after 22 years with each other, it will perhaps take Celine Dion’s ‘Because you loved me’ track to help recreate for present as well as for future generations – what both club and manager felt…for one last time…in this moment.

Au Revoir Arsène

With Love!

*Some statistics to be updated after the Huddersfield game*

EVERTONS SACKING OF KOEMAN CAPS OF A MISERABLE CHAPTER FOR DUTCH COACHES AND DUTCH FOOTBALL AS A WHOLE

There goes an old saying that no two teams are ever the same. Take the Barcelona side of 2009 and that of 2011, even under the same manager, one will see seeds of destructive innovation within these two celebrated sides. It is fitting to allude so early on to Barcelona, a team owing much to the transformation brought by Dutch legend the late Johan Cruyff. Perpetual transformation, continuous exercise of mind, body and execution has always been central to the modern Barca way and indeed to its closest contemporary during the early 90s to 2010 – the Dutch national team. At a more individual level, remnants of the Johan Cruyff way of expressive football also seems to percolate into the ideals and pedagogical outlook of many managers. In particular, Pep Guardiola features prominently and is a self-confessed disciple of the Cruyff way of playing. Notable B-listers, this limited only in the realm of football management, in particular Frank De Boer and Ronald Koeman also integrate the tenants of the so called ‘Dutch way’ in how their teams setup. Yet, while this model has had globetrotting success at a canter for the likes of Guardiola; for the Dutch national team and for notable Dutch coaches, it has offered much cause for consternation. At a glance the Dutch have failed to qualify for 2 successive international tournaments – a new low, for the first time since missing out on a hat-trick of tournaments in the 80s. This is significant as it shows at the surface, the end of the third golden era in Dutch football as much as the inadequacy of the new generation of players in offering a continuation of what is ostensibly the Dutch way of playing. Meanwhile, Dutch coaches are being relieved of duty in Europe’s top leagues and having their naked ambitions to one day manage Barcelona stymied in the process. This article will look at just what a harrowing couple of years it has been for Dutch football and their prized managerial exports. With almost a systematic stagnation being felt right across all Dutch football corridors, there is a general sentiment so keenly felt that the future of Dutch managers and Dutch football as a whole is at crossroads for the first time in a long time as both gradually flirt with losing relevance overtime.

JUST WHAT DOES THE CRUYFF MODEL ENTAIL…?

The Cruyff model has laid a conveyor belt of success for teams like Barcelona, Ajax and Spain both historically and at present. Modern day managers like Arsene Wenger, Frank Rijkaard, Michel Laudrup, Marcelo Bielsa, Jorge Sampaoli, Mauricio Sarri, Pep Guardiola as well as the two in focus De Boer and Koeman have all modelled their brand of football in line with Cruyff’s philosophy in one way or the other, albeit with different levels of implementation and subsequently success. A commonality among all of the teams and figures influenced by Cruyff ideals is the pursuit of an imperially expansive way of football known as ‘total football’ or in its more immediate Dutch form, ‘totaal voetbal’. In simple terms, this is a brand of football in which dominating the ball is craved above all else. Other finer prerequisites of this model place heavy reliance on the tactical, physical, technical and versatile nous of players as all outfield players are expected to take over the role of any other player in the team at any given time in line with the broader evolution of the game. This means for outfield players, defenders are comfortable playing as midfielders if the situation demands it – cue Vertoghen and Alderweireld (both Ajax products); midfielders can play as attackers (cue Messi) and attackers and drop into midfield and create scoring chances- cue Bergkamp. An argument can also be made that the modified and modern day version of this model incorporates even the goalkeepers who are expected to play the role of a ‘sweeper keeper’ by acting as ancillary, almost hybrid defender – cue Neuer. With the desired outlook on retaining in game organizational structure, much is demanded of the footballer in the way of both mind and body. Commenting on the intricate demands of these dualities, Bergkamp, a devoted exponent of ‘total football’ highlights how the model required stillness as much as speed in what is also the title of his autobiography ‘Stillness and Speed’. Here, ‘stillness’ is seen as slowing down the mind when in possession of the ball while ‘speed’ is projected as thinking several moves ahead both with and without possession by anticipating situations rather than reacting to them.

In the words of the great man himself, there are 14 basic rules that legitimize any foundations upon which the ‘total football’ philosophy is built:

  1. Team Player – ‘To accomplish things, you have to do them together’
  2. Responsibility – ‘Take care of things as if they were your own’
  3. Respect – ‘Respect one another’
  4. Integration – ‘Involve others in your activities’
  5. Initiative – ‘Dare to try something new’
  6. Coaching – ‘Always help each other within a team’
  7. Personality – ‘Be yourself’
  8. Social Involvement – ‘Interaction is crucial, both in sport and in life’
  9. Technique – ‘Know the basics’
  10. Tactics – ‘Know what to do’
  11. Development – ‘Sport strengthens body and soul’
  12. Learning – ‘Try to learn something new every game’
  13. Play together – ‘An essential part of any game’
  14. Creativity – ‘Bring beauty to the Sport’

 

THE DUTCH NATIONAL TEAM…

The single constant that has threatened to derail Dutch football into obscurity has been the existence of an egoistic disposition coupled with infighting within team members. Italia 90’ and more recently the European finals in 2012 offer candid examples. Yet, emanating from years of long indulgence in the Dutch philosophical ivory tower of football, the Dutch national team are now confronted by mediocrity of the highest calibre within their ranks and this has set them on their way to obscurity more than any egos ever could. With the chief Dutch Achilles heel now an inability to exhibit the brand of total football they are renowned for, there is almost a postmodern twist with what was once regarded as the Dutch way confronting them as an alien system. A swan song Robben brace meant the Dutch restored some pride on their way to missing out on Russia 2018 (if that is even possible). Yet however, the entire campaign and indeed that before it, highlighted just how far the mighty Oranje had fallen from grace. This fall has been considerably protracted! For a nation home to perhaps the greatest name to lay down a concept and impose it at all levels, the Dutch have nothing to show for it excerpt a single major tournament triumph in 1988. They hold an unwanted record in appearing in the most World Cup finals without ever winning the tournament. It is especially poignant that the defeat to Spain in the 2010 edition signified a showdown of two identical philosophies – both taking a leaf from Johan Cruyff. It is significant Spain won that game as in retrospect, they successfully improved on Cruyff’s model by deploying short, brisk passes coupled with close proximal position interchanges; more colloquially known as tiki-taka.

In club football, Dutch teams have also been left in the abyss. Not since Ajax in 1995 has a Dutch club won Europe’s top club competition. It is interesting however that in that time as the power of Dutch teams have waned, the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid have monopolized the competition with both demonstrating strands of total football and then some. Both examples show successful teams that implement the Cruyff way as going out of their way to augment their style of play by incorporating further dimensions to their play. In this regard, it is almost as if in Dutch football and in their managers, the aura held by Johan Cruyff as an ideologue in the modern way of playing has led to Dutch complacency as they feel transcend all other philosophies thereby failing to embrace the implicit expectations this however places upon them to continuously scheme in improving the approach. More recently, the Netherlands national team has introduced a new generation of players like Ake, Van Dyke, Bruma, Propper, Wijnaldum, van Aanolt, Martins Indi, De Vrij, Janssen Strootman, Blind, Depay and the like. Though some are more attuned to the Dutch way of playing than others, is it still tenable to keep on imposing the same philosophy that has remained stagnant for years while offering no new possibilities for the new cohort of players to try and exploit? Besides, with due respect, these new breed of players do not yet fit into the rarefied mould of talent offered by past superstars like van Basten, van Nistelrooy, Gullit, Cocu, Davids, Sneijder, van der Vaart, van Persie, Seerdorf, Bergkamp, Koeman Kluivert or Cruyff himself. This thereby means a 100% emphasis on total football is not tenable and calls for tempering with different assorted methods that suit the personnel within the national teams’ disposal while still retaining fluidity. As is at present, the shoehorning of players to be part of a passive system has led to the Dutch national team losing their identity somewhat.

                                  

DUTCH COACHES…

The final excerpt will look at Dutch exports in the way of their managers, in particular Frank De Boer and Ronald Koeman. Both are true to the Dutch way as they have played in successful teams that value the Cruyffian philosophical underpinnings. However, also as similarities go, both have been relieved of their duties as managers of Crystal Palace and Everton respectively after desperate starts to the new campaign. While the dismissal of managers at their clubs is a topic that engenders a lot of opinion, in both cases, there was a fundamental feeling that both had reached an impasse in terms of what they could continue to offer their clubs.

A lot of things have gone wrong for De Boer and Koeman since finding new clubs for themselves in the summer of 2016. For De Boer, his attempt to give himself a foreign experience lasted just 85 days in Italy with Inter Milan. In Italy, he did much to bring his name into disrepute by presiding over a series of jarred performances and never quite integrating the team he inherited. Whether he would have been successful at Inter given time is anyone’s guess, however, he never quite got them playing as a team and ‘Playing Together’ as Cruyff espouses in his blueprint. He’s situation was also not helped by star striker Icardi’s altercations with the Inter ultras which threw ‘Respect’ and ‘Responsibility’ right out of the window and saw ‘Social Involvement’ take a different negative form. Taking the Crystal Palace job offered a fresh start for a man whose career was still a fledgling one in Europe’s top 5 leagues. However, his managerial free-fall continued apace as he endured 4 league defeats, without registering a goal. In launching an inquest, anyone who saw Palace play can attest to a change in style by an otherwise obdurate side more traditionally suited to substance than finesse- this was part of the problem. The personnel De Boer inherited at Palace offered little in terms of the high dexterity and positional intelligence called for by the Total Football philosophy. With slow build ups and a passive approach to the game, there was an inevitability surrounding Palace’s lack of goals as their slow, deliberate build up from the back allowed opposition teams to re-organize and in football, there are few tasks less easier than defending against a team that plays right in front of you. Crystal Palace players offered nil runs in behind opposition players to stretch defenders into channels they would be uncomfortably defending in. Christian Benteke, through no fault of his own was never going to be suited to clever interchange and link-up play his manager expected. However, even more baffling and in keeping with the theme of Dutch managers being unwilling to change, there was never an attempted to go back to basics by going direct and deploying route one football which has worked well for Palace in the past. With De Boer (and possibly a bourgeoning pattern in Dutch managers), it was either his way or the high way which by the end of match day 4 meant his position at the club had no longer become tenable as Steve Parish had no choice but to dismiss him with even quicker promptitude than had resulted from his Italian odyssey.

An inquest into Koeman’s quarter of a season in charge prior to his dismissal offers the same subplots as his Dutch counterpart. Passivity, inaction, tactical flaws, a lack of pace and running power and this is before one takes into consideration that he was splashing out on players like a lotto winner for all of £140 million. Yes Lukaku’s goals had gone but did that have to mean that Koeman’s accumulated acumen went with him? For all of his shortcomings this young season, it was ironically in Everton’s most convincing game this season at Manchester City that set in motion the wheels of his teams sensational capitulation. Having just signed summer long target Sigurdsson, the pricey acquisition started on the bench with Koeman nonetheless naming an attacking lineup. Head and shoulders above all Everton players that Monday night was Calvert-Lewin putting in a Man of the Match performance. Yes he is no Lukaku, being raw still an apprentice of the game but in that particular premium fixture, he ticked all the right boxes. His pace meant that the City backline had to adjust to this and play with a handbrake on which meant Everton dominated most of the first half. His clever runs in wide channels meant Otamendi and Kompany were dragged all over the place to positions they were uncomfortable defending in, which was nowhere seen more fully than when Walker got his marching orders when the referee deemed him to have fouled the young forward. His link up play with Wayne Rooney was also flawless. Infact, it was one of his runs that allowed Everton to open the scoring as Rooney scored from the position Calvert-Lewin had vacated when he turned assister to the veteran. Not vintage total football, but it seemed like a watershed for Koeman and Everton on how they would move forward. Another impressive Everton player on the night was Tom Davies whose presence in midfield provided the platform from which Everton built from as he brought a certain bite, tenacity and dynamism in the center. Yet there would still be another twist that perhaps explains why Koeman is gone. A double substitution on the hour meant Koeman brought in 2 of his summer acquisitions Davy Klaasen (for Williams)  and Gylfi Sigurdsson (for the impressive Davies) – both virtually number 10s – as he tried to go for the jugular with an extra man on the pitch. It was indeed an understandable decision, yet a strange one in the context of what was to follow as it virtually relinquished the initiative to the hosts with Sigurdsson being peripheral to the play as he was isolated on the left wing. Such was the dualities that surrounded that game at the Etihad – the good and the horrible side of Koeman; and as soon as Sterling scored, Everton’s season has only since gone in one direction.

With virtually 3 number 10s having been recruited by Koeman in the summer, he confirmed his Cruyffian heritage perhaps more than De Boer. All 3 were pleasing on the eye – highly Technical, superb in unlocking defenses with their Creativity, true maestros in the mould of the thinking cap of total football Koeman presumptuously had on. Yet, no essential finisher was recruited, with Koeman opting for a former Barcelona/La Masia product Sandro Ramirez, a clear hint of his intent on playing cute link up football and spreading goals around the team rather than investing them in one principal man. It also hinted at positional interchanges with silky football to rival his would destination Barcelona- it was all promising in theory. Practically however, Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies, if the template at the Etihad had been anything to go by, were also promising prospects in the teams’ first 11. In reality, both have gone on to find themselves in and out of the team since. Sigurdsson, the clubs record signing continued were he left off at the Etihad – being largely a peripheral figure in forward plays by being thrown out to the left wing. In Koeman’s own words when he captured the cool Icelandic playmaker, he retorted, ‘Gylfi is a player I have followed for a long time and I admire he’s skill set’. This ‘admiration’ supposedly came at the time when Sigurdsson was playing behind the striker, being a central figure in attacks which made one question why play him at left wing in a defensive role in that regard- indeed a strange decision! At times there was almost a feeling that players were simply shoehorned to accommodate the two stellar names that had been brought in, namely Sigurdsson and Rooney, with them simply being thrown onto the pitch expected to go out and figure it out as they went along. All that this meant is that Everton’s play stalled. It became static and like De Boer’s Palace, became slow, passive and predictably experiencing a mental as well as tactical cul-de-sac when it came to within the opponents final third. But hey, at least Crystal Palace played with an out and out center forward in the team, they could afford to mix it up had De Boer chosen to. They also had pacey and powerful midfield players who could at least run beyond opposition lines, talk of Zaha, Townsend and Loftus-Cheek. Everton didn’t even have these luxuries. Whether with Rooney or Sandro in attack they could not mix it up as both prefer the ball to feet. Their midfielders for all their wealth of technical skill and Rooney also included, lacked pace, which is so essential in today’s game. To cap the gory climax, with Calvert-Lewin and Davies marginalized, it meant none of Everton’s players could run beyond opposition defenders.

In a sense, Koeman’s approach in his first and final 2 months of this season is symptomatic of classical total footballs malfunction. Deployed within a team overloaded with the tactical expectations and with their own individual limitations, the philosophy is largely found wanting. For instance, a lack of pace, a lack of ball holding ability and a lack of finishing, to list a few, did much to work against the philosophical demands of Koeman’s attempted brand of football which meant there was never any in game organizational structure arguably apart from their draw at Manchester City. Crucially, it meant Everton’s play became predictable without any standout Initiative. It does not take a genius to figure out that a highly expansive and dominating brand of football sought to bring to Everton needed more tinkering on the managers’ part. For Everton, a lack of pace, fundamentally meant a slow and predictable approach to the game. A random pick of any of the Cruyffian disciples will also show that predictability is something that cannot be tolerated in this brand of football, it comes with the territory. For instance in Pep Guardiola, for him to continuously achieve success within the Cruyff framework, he has had to undergo evolution by showing a form painstaking destructive innovation in his approach with his teams. At Barcelona, he defined the philosophy by modernizing the tiki-taka and using a possession based system that comprised of triangular interchanges between the front 3 and as well, the midfield 3. At Bayern Munich, he introduced us to a more physical tiki-taka incorporating not only short but also long passes, together with the use of underlapping fullbacks and the midfield diagonal get out of jail pass typified by Alonso and at the back, the sweeper keeper. At Manchester City, the linkup between the two swashbuckling fullbacks high-up the pitch has been a feature, together with a flurry of exhilarating pace down the wings as well as the in game tactical evolutions when out of possession and when in possession. Another feature during his time in England has been his unpredictability in even the team he sets out on the pitch – just ask any Fantasy Premier League manager.

CONCLUSION…

In modern day football more than ever, players learn from their managers. Koeman and De Boer presided over arguably the most spineless, least aggressive teams of this young season and naturally, the teams lacked cohesion as well as identity. For both, this season was the real acid test in terms of them cutting it in the big league as De Boer sought redemption following his ineffective stay in Italy, and Koeman was trusted with big investment to carry Everton forward and break into the Champions League places. It is also noteworthy that for both, it was a test of how well they could cope in teams whose tutelage never really fitted with the Cruyff way. Both were proven in the Dutch Eredivise as league winning managers – teams that predominantly subscribe to the Cruyffian way. Yet, their foreign escapade turned into a nightmare when entrusted to instill the same mentality in their teams.   Stating causation is uneasy, but there seems to also be a correlation between Dutch coaches and the Dutch national teams’ fortunes in recent years. Whether at club level or international level, doing justice to the Cruyff way appears feasible when the much celebrated total football approach is tempered with other stylistic elements as well as in institutions already embodying the model. On its own and in an alien institution, total football seems to carry seeds of destruction within it. Granted, the Dutch national team and Dutch football managers hoping to remain a competitive prospect in Europe’s leading leagues need to go back to the drawing board if they are to oversee a fourth golden generation for Dutch football and reclaim totaal individual plaudits.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW- ZIMBABWE

‘A foetus is a human being and therefore ought to be protected by the right to life provision (section 12) in the Declaration of Rights.’ 

The right to life provision is a statue that concerns itself with the protection and existence of life. The provision is enshrined in sec 12(1) of the constitution and it stipulates that, “no person shall be deprived of their life intentionally save in the execution of the sentence of a court…”Of interest is that the right to life is a prerequisite to the enjoyment of any other subsequent right therefore this presentation shall seek to establish were exactly the ‘sacred right’ of/to ‘life’ begins, with exclusive reference as to whether a foetus is a human being, who ought to find comfort in this life provision.

 

Any act that may intentionally result in the compromising of an unborn baby, as to the extent of a pregnancy seizing to exist, maybe defined as an act of abortion. Abortion refers to the removal of an embryo or foetus from its mother’s uterus before it is sufficiently developed to survive. The use of intentionally induced abortions is a common birth control or birth spacing method used around the world, yet perpetrates the sacred right to life of this unborn. It is not made explicit whether or not a foetus is a human being in the biological sense of the word. However, according to G.Linnington (2001), certain yardsticks may be used in determining this, among them being sec 10(3) a (1) of the Constitution. This states that ‘…for the purposes of [citizenship], a person shall be regarded as … born in wedlock if … his parents were unmarried to each other at the time of his conception or birth…’ Thus, in this context, a person commences to be defined as such if conception can be said to have taken place – thus, in this regard a human foetus, which would have undergone conception, ought to be protected by the right to life provision as “life begins at conception”, thus the medical practitioners should apply its expertise to ensure the survival of all humans.

 

Among the acts governing the act of abortion are the Abortion Act 1967 and the Termination of Pregnancy Act 1977. Under these acts, abortion may only be legalised if there be in existence any extenuating circumstances making the act legal, but nonetheless vile and sadistic. According to section 4 of the Act, pregnancies may only be terminated in the following circumstances:

‘(a) where the continuation of the pregnancy so endangers the life of the woman concerned or so constitutes a serious threat of permanent impairment of her physical health that the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to ensure her life or physical health, as the case may be;

(b) where there is a serious risk that the child to be born will suffer from a physical or mental defect of such a nature that he will permanently be seriously handicapped; or

(c) where there is a reasonable possibility that the foetus is conceived as a result of unlawful intercourse i.e. rape or incest.’

An example of such an extenuating circumstance in the history of abortion was in R v Bourne [1] 1939, H.K.Beven (1989). Here a 14 year old girl was raped and a gynaecologist proceeded to terminate the pregnancy as he was of the opinion that the girl would otherwise become a physical and mental wreck. He was acquitted/ exonerated of an offence by McNaughton J, who saw the procedure as having been done in good faith in so far as preserving the novice mothers life was concerned. Thus, only in this sense can the termination of a pregnancy be said to be ‘reasonable’ but nonetheless legally suspect. The acts are not themselves concerned with preserving the right of the unborn, if the aforementioned extenuating circumstances are present, but are merely a ‘check’ against any miscarriage of justice. Thus they merely legalise an illegal process, that of denying a foetus of its sacred right to life.

 

Apart from the limitations conferred upon by the act, other factors also govern the plight to protect the unborn foetus. The first is the foetuses gestation period, prior to the abortion. It follows that the foetus must be at least in the first 3months or first trimester when it is terminated. Nevertheless, it is nothing less than murder regardless of whether the foetus is merely a collection of cells or a viable person. Furthermore, the consent of the woman in terminating her pregnancy is also called upon according to H.K.Beven (1989), a feature which can be overlooked if she has any physical or mental incapacity. Regardless of this it would still appear that the protection of the life of the foetus should, in principle, enjoy priority over the pregnant woman’s right to self determination. In a contradictory capacity however, in Roe v. Wade 1973, a revolutionary judgment was passed that of a women’s right to privacy as including her right whether to terminate her pregnancy or not. This judgment was revolutionary since it meant that abortion, previously a crime almost everywhere, suddenly became a matter of constitutional right.

 

In the last resort, the right to life provision must, as a necessity, be conferred upon the foetus. Establishing whether a foetus is a human per se is an area that remains shrouded with controversy albeit from a biological stand point, human life exists from the moment that the ovum is fertilized by the sperm and more specifically, from the time the egg travels to the uterus. In addition, the oft-quoted statement from the opening paragraphs of the 1776 American Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they

are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these

are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...

Thus, the right to life is by necessary implication is an inherent right, conferred unto us by our creator. Morestill, the termination of a foetus is unethical and immoral, and serves to contravene the law of God wherein the maternal womb is the flame of life, sacred therein and may not be profaned.

COUNTDOWN EURO 2016

Dutch Euro 2012 Debacle

 The Dutch, in retrospect were heavy favorites heading to Poland and Ukraine. The 2010 FIFA World Cup® campaign was, if anything, a blueprint from which even the most sceptical of audiences, would expect them to trace from.

 The Euro qualifying campaign that ensued saw the Dutch leave no stone unturned as they notched up an impressive 37 goals with 9 wins. Be it as it were, 12 would be something of a fortuitous number as Huntelaar topped the charts with 12 goals coupled with a collective fine showing in an exhibitionist display in a national record 12-0 rout of San Marino. However, one of those games yielded no result in what many viewed as a ‘dead-rubber’ against Sweden. Having qualified, the Dutch display was lethargic, lacking a cutting edge. To an observant audience, that 3-2 reverse in Scandinavia foreshadowed what lay ahead in Poland-Ukraine as the Dutch had a galore of chances but somehow contrived to be sparring in front of goal. To cap the gory climax, their defence was susceptible that night, a flaw that was made more apparent by their wayward passing- which thereby made any foundations upon which their ‘total voetbal’ philosophy was built, vague.

 The countries count down to the Euros was completed with a 3-2 victory over the three lions of England, only winning however in injury time having squandered a 2 goal lead. Further warm up matches against the Belgium, a rising powerhouse in European football, only served to make the cracks in the Dutch artillery more and more visible.However,it would have taken the best of pessimists to write them off as they had some of the most inform players heading into the tournament. Robin Van Persie and Klass Jan Huntelaar had both proved themselves as goal scoring warriors, with a warranty for their mediocre clubs. Even more impressive, the duo, combined with Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van Der Vaart, and Arjen Robben had scored a culmination of 118 goals for their clubs! Thus, pitch euphoria could not be any higher and quite rightly so.

However, pre-tournament and tournament atmosphere can be very different, as the Dutch were to duly discover. The almighty ‘oranje’ capitulated and what’s worse, appeared like a bunch of clowns put together on the football field. From the dressing room to the management, there appeared little comprehension of what this tournament meant for their proud supporters. Culprits were numerous- talk of the ever lively but inefficient and selfish Robben, the misfiring van Persie, an inexperienced left back unable to fill the void of the great Giovanni van Bronkhorst, the aging van Bommel, indeed a strange selection as he was the managers son in-law, and, above all else, the sulking duo of van Der Vaart and Klass Jan Huntelaar, which typified the gross individualism of Dutch football teams, past and present. A further climb up the ladder and one will discover that the manager, Bert van Merjwick appeared clueless and had lost his dressing room due to his unsound team selection and man management perhaps before the whistle blew.

 By the time the Dutch did contend with their ensuing predicament, it was, one might feel, a case of too little too late, as they were ruthlessly overrun, outplayed, out-thought and out-maneuvered by their otherwise world class opposition. Even to the most ardent and indignant Dutch football fans, this tournament exit was viewed as a travesty, a jest and with great scepticism. What’s more, the history of the Dutch had been that of near misses and this was again a sour reminder of that predisposition albeit an early one – they went out with a whimper and were condemned to defeat by their past!

 So, after much anticipation and an entire nation’s expectation, the Dutch would bow out of Euro 2012® having recorded no points on the board-their fortuitous number had become an omen it would appear. Indeed an inauspicious return to the global tournament stage when one considers their dizzy heights of 2010 which, in retrospect malign themselves in-line within the many long trails of false dawns for Dutch football.

So come 10 June to 10 July, whom; among an extended tournament featuring 24 teams will flatter to deceive, as we have become so accustomed to in these major tournaments?.

 

 DATE \@Stare5que “dddd, dd MMMM yyyy” Friday, 10 June 2016