successful team from Salford “up north”) would make everyone forget the damned successes of 30 years earlier. It didn’t work and after two seasons and massive public demand, the white sleeves were back. The rest is history.
I wonder what measures the club will take in a few years time when the team is in the Championship and being unfavourably compared with the Invincibles from 2004. Alisher Usmanov, if you’re out there, we need your help! Save Our Souls.
Back to the book. There are several telling paragraphs and chapters where Chapman outlines his football philosophies and I don’t recall one instance where his views on any playing matter would coincide at any level with those of Arsène Wenger. Make of that what you will. Football moves on and Chapman was from another era. However, he was light years ahead of his time and, having read the book, if Herbert was around now I know which one I’d rather have as a manager to get us out of the interminable pickle we’re in on the pitch.
Most of you will have access to this book, so I won’t quote too much from it, but for example when it comes to tactics, Chapman was most definitely a ‘team’ man. Again and again, throughout the book, he refers to the tactics of a team, the ‘spine’ of the team, the importance of keeping the team’s shape, how vital it is for the forwards to get back and do their defensive duty, how every man should know his job, the value of keeping a clean sheet and most importantly ‘the system’. “If we don’t concede a goal, then we shall not lose the game, and if we score one, we shall win.” Another quote: “There is no room for fancy tricks and dribbling in the modern game. Spectators want a fastmoving spectacle, rapier like attacks that have the spirit of adventure.” Somehow I don’t think OGL has read that bit, he stopped playing with ‘rapier like attacks’ in 2004.
In fact, barely a page went by where I didn’t think ‘I wish Arsène Wenger could
There is even a whole chapter entitled ‘Young Players are a Gamble’
read this, he might learn a thing or two’. Believe it or not there is even a whole chapter entitled ‘Young Players are a Gamble,’ and others called ‘The Value of Long, Well Placed Kicks,’ ‘Hanging onto a Lead’, ‘Helping the Defence’ and ‘Brains’. Arsène? Perhaps my favourite part of the entire book is the chapter called ‘Surprise’ where Chapman talks about his dislike of what we now call ‘tippy tappy’ football, as favoured by the current incumbent. “The faster you can make ground, the more likely you are to get the opposition defenders out of position, and it is for this reason that we do not favour what is called the close passing game. Where does that take you? Usually the ball merely travels across the field and back again without any advantage being gained.” Exactly.
which we have heard so much as Arsenal supporters, is very much in evidence by the titles of the chapters: ‘More Football’ (he loved it), ‘Football at Night’ (unheard of in the early 1930s), ‘Goal Judges’ (he liked the idea, we’re still waiting), ‘Better Refereeing’ (he didn’t like most of them), ‘Is the League System Wrong?’ (he didn’t like teams being relegated because “fear of defeat ruined the spectacle”), ‘How to Build the England Team’ (told you he was an early Brian Clough), ‘Football on the Continent’ (he foresaw the European Cup 20 years before anyone else and was desperate for his Arsenal team to compete with ‘the continentals’), and finally ‘New Plans for the Arsenal Stadium’ (they didn’t include knocking it down, moving to a soulless bowl and being part of an American sports franchise).
Do yourself a favour and read the book. It’s so sad that this great man died so young of pneumonia, aged 56, at the peak of his career with Arsenal, which by the sound of it, he grew to love like a family. I wonder whether the musings of Arsène Wenger when he finally gets down to penning them will be half as interesting? RIP Herbert Chapman, Arsenal forever.
It’s such a shame that in those days there were no film or television recordings of entire matches so we could all see 70 years later how the team played and whether or not there was a Wally Walcott around then running up blind alleys and losing possession cheaply. Somehow under Herbert Chapman, I suspect not. I met Ted Drake once and he did tell me Cliff Bastin was a miserable sod and no one in the dressing room liked him! Unfortunately, 70 years from now our great grandchildren will all be able to see in glorious HD colour how sh*t we were in 2011.
Towards the end of the book, it is obvious that Chapman’s visionary ideas, such as numbered shirts, white balls, and floodlit football (he was first with all these) about
To the girls of Europe, thanks to you all for making our summer holidays so much better!