Friday 28 February 2014

Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland [Hotel Bumi Asih Jaya, Bandung, Indonesia]

Good day Gooners.

Normal service has been resumed, we've wiped our shoes of Sunderland's general shoddiness and clearly have one and a half eyes firmly on the Premier League title (when could we last say that going into March?).
Bandung Gooners

Writing this piece from the same Singapore apartment I was in two weeks ago, I'm rather relieved to be back in a city that doesn't wreak of pandemonium everywhere you set foot. Jakarta was a huge step into the unknown for me, a place where essentially every single one of your senses can be rudely awakened, simultaneously. It's a dirty, smelly place, filled with pollution and people wanting to make money out of you any way that they can. But it's also filled with culture, top-notch arts and great food (if you know where you're going that is). Each person I met was not only incredibly kind and generous, but also very proud of their country.

I didn't just visit Jakarta whilst in Indonesia though, I had the opportunity to visit Bandung, the capital of West Java and the first place to hold the Asian-African Conference (also aptly named the 'Bandung Conference'), in 1955.

Bandung Gooners
It was in Bandung that I watched the Sunderland game, and originally we had planned to watch at the Bandung Arsenal Supporter's homebase, Legian Terrace. Unfortunately, due to new rules being established that prevents bars and pubs from opening past 11pm, we had to choose an alternative venue. Hotel Bumi Asih Jaya was decided upon with only a few hours to go before kickoff. I was
expecting it to be a poor turnout because of this, but to my surprise around 150 Arsenal fans turned up for the game, including a coach-load of Gooners from Karawang more than an hour away.

The Bandung fans certainly are passionate, singing more or less non-stop from kick-off to the full-time whistle. And they were obviously in good spirits because we were watching a dominating display by the Gunners over a poor, poor Sunderland side

After the game we visited a local natural springs hot pool to relieve all the non-stress from the game (it's nice to have a comfortable win every once in a while) before heading back to a graphics studio which local Gooner Arsya had arranged for us to sleep at.

An alley
I was off back to Jakarta the following day, via surprisingly comfortable train, to spend my last evening with the Gooners that I had met during my stay. We had some Murtabuk and some Fried Chicken, took a few photos and shared a few stories (of which I'm sure there would be many more had I longer to stay) before bidding farewell.

Now back in Singapore, you probably won't be surprised to learn that I'm on a crash diet. The coronary fest of the quite typical Jakarta eating habits has gotten the better of me and now my waistline has given in completely. Time for a change!


Thursday 20 February 2014

Arsenal 0-2 Bayern Munich (Warung Bang Hoody, Jakarta)

Mesut Özil is not fit enough to play at Arsenal. He has had a terrible season. He's hardly scored any goals for us. He looks disinterested. Why are we not resting him? Is he worth the record-sum we paid?

The above statements/questions are being asked by many Arsenal fans after yet another disappointing result, whilst the whole Özil debate has been on many people's agendas for quite some time.

Yes, he missed a penalty yesterday that would unquestionably have given us momentum and confidence to put Bayern firmly in their place. He's also missed a few before. But, the best players miss them. David Alaba missed his against us in the second half. We also seem to forget that it was Özil that won us the penalty in the first place.

Making the most of it.
The German international's stats for last night's game may highlight a lack of completed passes (and interceptions of Bayern's), but they also reveal that he covered more distance than all but Flamini and Jack. People who have a keen eye will notice that Özil simply moves around the pitch in a gracious, somewhat floaty manner, which makes him appear to be lazy, slow and disinterested. When you pay more attention you notice that more players mark him than any others, which in turn opens up the field for more passing opportunities to be exploited. And I have no doubt that this would have been demonstrated if it weren't for the extra man that Bayern had.

The one thing I'd like to know about Özil is whether he has a minimum-minutes-per-game or minimum-games-played clause written into his contract, because he seems to be playing every game and is rarely subbed-off. I still think he needs a bit of a break (not against Bayern though), both physically and mentally - perhaps there is increased position competition in the German squad and he (and Wenger) wants to be involved at every opportunity to stay top of the priority list?

Anyhow, the clash against Bayern was a huge disappointment, especially given the way in which we started the game and the opportunities we failed to convert. BUT, we go to Munich with a far better chance than we had last season - we 'only' have a two-away-goal deficit to face up to, we have a better team than we did last season, we will (hopefully) have momentum in the Premier League and FA Cup to transfer to the Champions League and, let's face it, the reigning European champions will know and fear that we have unfinished business with them. We've beaten them before, we can do it again.

Jakarta Gooners in full swing. We were 1-0 down at this point
With that match-related stuff out of the way, I can tell you more about the craziness that is Indonesia. I watched the game with the local Arsenal fans at Warung Bang Hoody, an open-air venue in South Jakarta and the home base of Arsenal Indonesia Supporters Jakarta. Being a 2:45am kickoff, it was always going to be difficult to get a good bunch of fans together (they had more than 1000 Arsenal fans in attendance here for the Carling Cup Final implosion against Birmingham) but we still had around 150 Arsenal fans in attendance, not to mention a good number of Bayern supporters.

Jakarta itself is quite simply the craziest place I have ever been, it's a huge departure from anywhere else I've travelled. The sheer amount of traffic is ridiculous and the number of suicidal motorcyclists darting in and out of traffic is mind-boggling. People obviously have a far lesser interest in their own safety over here. In fact, the taxi ride alone from the airport was the most intense fairground ride I've ever been on. And at least fairground rides have seat belts or other harnesses, the taxi I was in had none. I'm quite sure the driver was about fourteen, and with his complete disregard for other road users, pedestrians, passenger comfort and wildlife, I was happy to arrive at my destination in one piece without the need to change my underwear. I suppose you can't really argue with a £10 taxi-ride that lasts two hours.
Commuting: The Jakarta Way

All that doesn't matter too much though. I'm here to see the Arsenal family, and the Indonesian fans that I've met so far have been utterly devoted to making sure that my stay is as comfortable as possible. They are incredibly proud of their supporters clubs and the passion that they show for Arsenal surpasses that of any other groups I have seen so far on my journey. I'm sure it'll continue to amaze me when I'm in Bandung, Western Java, to watch the Sunderland game at the weekend. Until then.


Tuesday 18 February 2014

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool, FA Cup [Molly Roffey's, Singapore]

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Arsenal have beaten Liverpool by two goals to one (arguably our most favoured scoreline against them!) to reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup.

Once again, I was in Singapore to watch this must-win match. Having had an incredibly embarrassing outing at Anfield the previous weekend, I think many were expecting something similar at the Emirates. But, I could see from the manner in which we responded against United mid-week that we could take some much needed momentum and confidence into this cup tie.

Singapore Gooners

Locally, the match kicked off at midnight, which gave us an impressive turnout at Molly Roffey's, the home of the Singapore Gooners. Despite people working on the Monday morning, I would say around seventy Arsenal fans turned up to show their support. The singing culture in Singapore is fantastic, they really get behind the team. It's something that I deeply believe in too - despite being thousands of miles away I'm convinced that if we sing loud enough the players back home can hear us. It doesn't hurt to try, at least.

The game itself was a more evenly-contested affair than at Anfield. I'm not going to say we dominated the performance from start to finish, we had a few questionable decisions go our way (never thought I'd say that about Howard Webb) and a few individual player performances to be thankful for too, none more so than Fabianski. Once again, we responded to a disappointment in the best way that we could hope for, only this time we got the result we wanted (as opposed to the point against United).

Aside from the keeper, stand out players for me included the Ox for his direct-play and pace, Koscielny for making Suarez his bitch but being incredibly gentleman-like about it in the process (it's called class), and Yaya Sanogo for his air kicks work-rate.

Fed up with human flesh, Suarez takes fancy
to the (probably more than edible) Emirates turf
And to think that we did all this with seven changes from the goalless draw against United. It's once again a demonstration of just how far Arsenal, as a team, has come in the space of a season. But, for some reason, people still find reasons to complain.

So, for now, I'm bidding farewell to Singapore. I've had a great week here, but it's time to move on to somewhere a bit different. I'll be returning to the über-metropolis next week but as I write this, I'm at the airport waiting for a flight to Jakarta, to meet up with Gooners in Indonesia, where I'll be watching the Bayern and Sunderland games. As you can probably imagine, I'm feeling a bit anxious about going from ultra-modern Singapore, with its lightining-fast internet, immaculate toilets and graded food outlets, to a country where you can only drink bottle-water, or where the GDP per capita is, at most, 1/10th that of most other countries I've traveled to so far. It scares me but it excites me at the same time. Of course it's comforting to know that I'm going to be taken care of by the Arsenal Family, and that's what makes this journey so special.


Friday 14 February 2014

Arsenal 0-0 Man United [Molly Roffey's, Singapore]

Hello from Singapore.

Usually when writing match updates for the first time in a new city or country, I'll do a little piece about the place I'm visiting and then something about the atmosphere of the pub/casino/lounge/bookmakers where I watched Arsenal with local Gooners. Finally, I'll very, very briefly talk about the match performance and implications of the result etc.

This time round, as much as I want to share my thoughts about a country that I'm deeply impressed with, I'm going to do football first, otherwise I'll likely spontaneously combust.

Many Arsenal fans' house-style of choice
Some people, through a variety of life choices, decide to live under rocks. I've never seen these rocks advertised for rent or sale in any estate agent window, on or on Craigslist. I've Googled the term but have failed to find anything useful. Perhaps you have to belong to some kind of 'under rock dwellings' club. But, judging by the sheer onslaught of hermits that have taken to the tweet-waves, Facebook groups and online forums after the Man United match, they definitely exist.

There must be whole housing estates with detached rocks, townhouse rocks and rock apartments, each one complete with internet connection, monitor and keyboard, where hundreds of like-minded numskulls simultaneously try to prove a very invalid point.

The point they try to make is that Arsenal's season is over, they emphasise that the club is currently in a disastrous scenario equivalent to DEFCON 1. These fans are foaming at the mouth like a doberman with acute rabies. Toys the size of elephants have been lobbed out of prams and many heads are wanted on a plate. 

Those that don't have soup for brains will instead define this scenario as being 'one point behind the leaders in the Premier League and still in two cup competitions'.

After the horror show at the weekend against Liverpool, the last thing anybody wanted - but the thing that many feared the most - was the start of an all-too-familiar season implosion. It was the same fear that people had after the embarrassing scoreline at the Ethihad last December. But, after that game we had a disappointing draw, at home, with Moan-rinho's chavs, which led way to a run that would see us take nineteen out of twenty one points in the league (not to mention comprehensive victories over the Spuds and Coventry in the FA Cup). During this run we remained top of the Premier League.

Did we spend money on a striker in January? No. Do we have oil money? No. Do we want to become a sugar-daddy club and give up everything that has made us who we are and who we continue to be? No. Is our season over? No. Unfortunately there are too many glass-half-emptiers out there that want to answer 'yes' to all those questions but the reality is that we've already taken a massive step forward in becoming title challengers again. Bad results happen in football, they happen to every team and that includes both Chelsea and Man City, as is evident over the past few days.

What is most important is that once again we have responded to a horrible result in the most desirable manner that we could wish for, we just didn't get the result that we wanted. Instead we take momentum and belief into our next game, which is all that the team, and the supporters, should be focusing on.

So, rant out of the way, let me tell you what I think of Singapore. I love it, and I haven't even ventured into the downtown core yet. The weather is fantastic, if a little humid (what do you expect from a country practically on the equator?), and the food is absolutely magnificent. People say that Singapore is expensive but to be honest, it doesn't seem any different to Australia or New Zealand. In fact, in Singapore, I can eat far better food and travel further with public transport, for considerably less outlay than those other countries. I haven't had a look into living expenses and so on, but maybe there are a few rocks that I can live in under, on the super-cheap.

One of many Singapore viewpoints
I loved the city that served as my first introduction to Asia, Hong Kong. It's a great place and perhaps feels more authentically 'Asia' than Singapore, but I'm not sure if I could live there. It's too crowded and too smoggy, and when I left, the weather was surprisingly Britain-like (for those that don't know, think multiple shades of grey). Singapore, to me, is almost the perfect blend between east and west, and it's on the doorstep to many different countries too. There's an awful lot going on in this place and I think it would maybe be easier to find your 'own Singapore' rather than your 'own Hong Kong'. Anyway, it's just my personal opinion. I've also only been here a few days so perhaps I'm being too judgmental too soon.

Dedicated Arsenal Supporters at Molly Roffey's
Singapore has a very active Arsenal Supporters club. They have a dedicated pub where they watch all their matches, Molly Roffey's, and it was there that we watched the United match. I would say around fifty Gooners came to watch, which isn't bad when you consider the game kicked off at 3:45am locally. The pub itself is also adorned with Arsenal flags, shirts and memorabilia, so they've really made it their home - something which I encourage other supporters clubs worldwide to think about doing.

Right now I'm staying with Jeffrey Tan, a local Singaporean, and he's been really helpful in showing me around his area, Hougang, which lies to the east of downtown Singapore. I think it's really important to befriend a local here as they can take you to the best hawker food centres and will ensure that you get great quality food without getting ripped off. I know I keep going on about food, but you can't come to Singapore and not talk about it, it's everywhere and it's bloody marvellous. 

I will also be watching the Liverpool FA Cup match here, so hopefully I can fill you in on some other non-food related Singapore niceties in a few days! Until then.


Wednesday 12 February 2014

Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal [Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong]

Good Morning Gooners.

Hong Kong! The Pearl of the Orient (although I think some people refer to Shanghai as the 'New Pearl', so I'm not sure how current that nickname is). After spending more than 2 months in Australia and New Zealand, I landed in Hong Kong last Tuesday to start the final leg of my round-the-world adventure. The city would be the first of many and the sights, sounds and smells of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam await.

Fog. Not smog

On arrival into Chep Lap Kok I was greeted by Kevin Ng and Matt Haha (yes, haha!) from the Arsenal Hong Kong Supporters Club. They were very happy to see their guest and had arranged a packed itinerary for my stay, including a visit to the Big Buddha, Tai O Fishing Village, Victoria Peak and a hundred different restaurants and food stalls.

Arsenal Soccer School in Hong Kong
I was staying with Adam Ng, a local Gooner who lives in a small town (by Asian standards) called Sheung Shui, right next to the Chinese border. It meant that I could get a feel for the real Hong Kong, as I was staying in a quite typical residence where you could barely swing a bag of cats. Being away from the pandemonium of central Hong Kong and Kowloon, it also meant it was significantly quieter, and there were absolutely no tourists, aside of course from the Chinese ones, popping across the border to bulk-buy infant milk and other essentials that they can't safely obtain back home.

I had the chance to visit one of the Arsenal soccer schools in Hong Kong. This football school is open to students from 3 years to 12 years old. I met the Technical Director, Alan Lam (also a sports commentator), and he told me about the exercises and their plans for the future. The school has only be running for a few years, but it obviously gained traction quickly. They are now looking at starting classes for kids aged TWO, and already have about twelve signed up. The school's weekly sessions run year round, without a break, and there are four separate locations in Hong Kong alone.

Hong Kong Gooners
So, game time came around and it was an important one. The local Hong Kong Gooners had arranged a viewing party at one of the Jockey Clubs (the term 'Jockey Club' means 'Betting Shop' out there) and there were around 100 people in attendance to watch a complete car-crash of a performance against Liverpool. I'm not going to comment on the performance because everybody and their dog has already had their two cents, some justified, some just plain daft. All we know is, as of right now, if we win against United we go back to the top of the league. Let's hope that a blip is just that, a blip.


Friday 7 February 2014

Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace [Chris Jack's house, Sydney] - oh, and HONG KONG!

Morning all. Sorry about the delay, I've had a bit of a nightmare getting time to do writing since touching down in Hong Kong. I've been ferried all over the place, seeing all the sights, sampling all the tastes and answering the many, many questions that the local Hong Kong Gooners have had for me. I'm also staying in an area not known to many visitors, Sheung Shui, and the particular house I'm in (which is a typically-tiny Hong Kong residence) has no internet, so I'm sitting in a cafe on Hollywood Street as I write this.

Pearl of The Orient, or City of Life. Hong Kong. 
You'll hear more about my experiences in Hong Kong in a separate article because I still have to tell you about my last few days in Australia. After flying back into Sydney from Auckland, I watched another West Sydney Wanderers game, this time in the town of Newcastle, which was obviously named after that rough place on the River Tyne (shouldn't it be 'Newnewcastle' then?). WSW were playing the 'Jets' and once again I was sitting in the atmospheric 'active' away section. The game finished 1-1 and it was another example of how the world's lesser football leagues deserve a bigger following.

Now we know where JW10 got his
sweep-over from
My host for my final few days in Sydney was none other than Chris Jack, the grandson of one of Arsenal's most notable legends, David Jack. David Jack was known for a number of things. One of Herbert Chapman's famous XI, Jack was the first player in the Premier League to sign for another club for more than £10,000, arriving at Arsenal from Bolton in 1928 for £10,890, nearly twice the previous transfer record. He scored 113 goals in 181 appearances for the Gunners, and was the first Arsenal player to captain England.

When Chris heard about my challenge he was more than happy to help out a fellow Gooner and offered me somewhere to stay for a few nights. You can read more about Chris and his Grandfather in a 'meet the Gooner Family' feature later on.

Chris and I were up and awake (just) for the 3am kickoff against Crystal Palace. An absolute must-win for us, we started very well and looked in full control of the game from the onset. In typical Arsenal style of course, we failed to turn the 75% possession into clear-cut chances in the first half. We had to wait until after the interval for some of the good stuff, and most of it came from The Ox. Both goals were well worked and well finished, showing good examples of what he can do on his own and as part of the team. It really is promising to see and I hope he gets the chance to play more regularly (through the middle). It's always a good thing to have direct players like The Ox, Gnabry and Rosicky available when we are struggling to capitalise on good possession football.

Another three points means we've an almost perfect January, the blip at Southampton being the only negative outside of the injury challenges. Even then, ten out of twelve points isn't bad. It's exactly the kind of stuff that championship-winning sides are made of. Let's hope we can do a similar job in February.


Sunday 2 February 2014

Meet the Gooner Family [Shane Lust, Auckland]

Meet Shane Lust, my host for an evening in Auckland. Shane hails from Highbury. No two fans are the same, and they all have their own ways of being passionate towards the cannon. Shane is no exception. He's a little bit eccentric, which might explain him rambling on a bit in this 'Meet the Gooner Family' episode. Or maybe it was just him being drugged-up to the eyeballs on Vicodin after breaking his foot playing football with his five-year old nephew. No joke.

Shane Lust

Q. Why Arsenal?

Shane doing his best Källström impression
Arsenal have a tradition and class about them that very few clubs have.  From their humble beginnings as the royal armoury factory team through the Chapman era with the famous Art Deco stands to the fine suits the players wore in the Graham era.  From the captain's decision of what length sleeves the team wears to the sports science revolution that Wenger brought to the English game. There's an atmosphere of respect and discipline that surrounds the club. Arsenal have always advanced the sport.

Arsenal have watched footballing dynasties rise and fall but we have always been one of the top clubs. We've won the title in all but one decade since the thirties and had an unbroken run in England's top division for almost a hundred years. An accomplishment no other club comes close to. Oh, and The Invincibles.

If Arsenal was a bloke at a party, he'd be the one that arrives fashionably late, dressed to the nines and takes the best looking girl home. I hate that guy, but I love Arsenal.

That and I love the chicken curry and chips at the Arsenal Fish Bar on Blackstock Road, Highbury.  

Q. Started Supporting Arsenal?
As long as I can remember though wasn't really interested in following it until I was about 12 and saw us win the Littlewoods Cup against Liverpool in 1987.

Q. Favourite Player?
Thierry Adams, the two Mr Arsenals!

Q. Favourite current Player?
Theo. He gets a lot of stick but he's great to watch and scores some really important goals. The way he was carried from the pitch being showered with scarves made him look like a young Pharoah being adored by his subjects. Gutted his season is over.

Q. Favourite Arsenal moment?
Beating Loughborough Town 12-0! Okay, Anfield 89.

From a more personal point of view though, I worked for Arsenal in the club shop in Finsbury Park in the early 90s having done 3 weeks with the club on work experience when I was 16. The staff got to go to the games and stand in the staff enclosure but had to leg it back to the shop a few minutes before the end to open up again for the punters.

The day we were presented the trophy for winning the league in 90/91, having just beaten Man Utd 3-1, was about to be gutting, as I had to leave before the festivities. That's when the commercial manager, John Hazel, tapped me and his son, who worked with me, on the shoulder and said "I need you two boys to stay back and help set up the trophy table in the centre circle". There we were on the pitch with the likes of Adams, Bould, Seaman, Smith, Rocky, Limpar, Dixon, Winterburn and Arsenal legend, David Hillier! The 40,000 plus crowd were deafening from the middle of the pitch. After patting Tony Adams on the back I faced the North Bank held aloft my scarf and ensured Monday at school was met with great fury and jealousy by those who were there and had seen me. Best job I've ever had and being part of the Arsenal family in the days when it really felt like one will always hold great memories for me.

Q. Where do you watch Arsenal in Auckland?
On my patio in the sun having avoided all media until it's acceptable to drink beer and eat peanuts.

Q. Emirates or Highbury?
You can't beat the smell of horsesh*t and onions on Gillespie Road can you? Highbury for me, all day long. North Bank middle, middle, standing just behind the trench coz I'm short.

Q. League Prediction?

Q. Who will be Arsenal's player to watch for the second half of the season?I wanted to say Draxler but that never materialised. Santi's coming into some form now, I think he's going to have a considerable impact.


Southampton 2-2 Arsenal [The Fox, Auckland]

My final game in the continent of Oceania (or Australasia depending on who you are and where you come from) has arrived. Arsenal v Crystal Palace. I'm really, really fortunate to be staying with Chris Jack, the Grandson of Arsenal legend David Jack, in Sydney. It's a great way to bow out of this vast country before leaving for the pandemonium of Hong Kong and the rest of South East Asia on Tuesday.

But, before all that, a little bit about my last few days in New Zealand; I was staying with Surrey-born Gooner Neil White for a few days in the suburbs, trying to recover from the booze-laden weekend with the Essex lads who I met during the Coventry match.

The Southampton match kicked off, once again, at 8:45am. Being a mid-week fixture however, we weren't expecting a massive crowd. You see, there are a few problems with watching Premier League football in New Zealand, which in turn makes it more challenging to get fans together to watch live games. Firstly, the time differences for watching them can be even worse than in Australia. A law was also passed recently by the NZ government which means that no bar/pub can open between the hours of 4am and 8am. When you consider that the only legitimate way to watch Premier League games is by going online and logging into a paid subscription of 'Premier League Pass' (ludicrous, I know), it makes for a pretty fragmented and often unreliable viewing experience. [By the way, what was the Premier League thinking when they awarded sole media rights to a broadcaster that has no TV presence whatsoever?]

Auckland Gooners. An all-British lineup.
Anyhow, there is no active Arsenal supporters club in New Zealand at the moment, the above issues certainly don't help the matter. There are many fans around however, so the Southampton game was a good opportunity to get some more people together in the hope that it would rekindle the Gooner Family spirit in Auckland, and in turn New Zealand as a whole. I have been to so many places on my travels where I've witnessed the joys of being part of an active supporters club. It's not just the football, it's the community efforts and the camaraderie. For want of a better word, it's a fellowship, and it's something that the NZ Gooners are missing out on.

I suppose it might have been a bit easier to get these new 'fellows' fired up if it wasn't for the fact that Arsenal played abysmally for all of four minutes against a very resilient Southampton. I'm not a football tactician (despite being an EA Sports FIFA veteran) but even I know that our midfield had no dynamism whatsoever. It was a tactical #fail by Mr Wenger, putting Flamini and Arteta together (with Wilshere, Rosicky and Ramsey injured) in midfield and asking the latter to do a playmaker role. I know the man with lego-hair had a creative responsibility at Everton, but it was a recipe for disaster when asked to play in an advanced position for us, when all season he's been playing the anchor man who sweeps up loose balls and disperses them without hesitation. It would be like asking Özil to play right-back. I think Arteta has lost his pace over the past season too, and that makes him a questionable starter in any position other than a direct replacement for Flamini.

Of course that's where he'll be starting for the next few games as the Frenchman went all Semtex on Schneiderlin, which certainly didn't/doesn't help matters going forward (excuse the pun). 

It's all but a disaster though, yes Man $ity may be a point ahead of us but let's not get away from the fact that Chelsea play them soon. Plus, we still have blood and heart in our squad, whilst they have oil and aircraft parts in theirs. Also, please don't all throw your toys out the pram over the general non-happenings of the transfer window. Yes, there may be a slight boo-boo somewhere with the Källström's fitness debacle, and we didn't manage to tie down the Draxler and Vucinic deals, but we've come a long way without them so far and I'm convinced we can take the battle all the way to the wire with the two sugar-daddy clubs. Keep the faith and for f***'s sake get behind your team.

Until Asia then...