The way I see it – Arsenal v Middlesbrough

Last updated : 08 September 2006 By Jason Hogan

After weeks of gnashing teeth for Arsenal fans everywhere, Arsene eventually made his moves in the transfer market and it's safe to say that they were rather interesting ones. The departures of Cole and Reyes left me with decidedly mixed feelings. I wanted Cole out of Arsenal from the minute his little dalliance with the Phoney Russian Franchise was first exposed. Good riddance to bad rubbish is just about the politest phrase that springs to my mind where Cashley is concerned.

But I am a touch sad to see Reyes disappear though. Even though I shared the frustrations of many an Arsenal fan over his inconsistency, I am in no way ashamed to say that I was a genuine fan of the boy. In fact, I have always believed that he is a genuine world class player in the making and I will continue to follow his progress in Spain if only to see if I'm proved right.

On the plus side, Julio Baptista and William Gallas came in and when I first heard that these two were on their way to the Arsenal my first thought was "Well, how about that?". I mean, I never thought for a minute that we would be able to prise Gallas away from the PRF given all the adamant claims I heard that he would not be sold or moved on under any circumstances never mind as part of the deal that took Cashley the other way.

From a footballing perspective, I have no doubt in my mind that the Arsenal have come out of this little situation with the better deal. I couldn't give a toss about the financial aspect of the whole thing because in reality this situation was never really about money as such for Arsenal - it was more to do with making sure that we didn't allow those cunts from SW6 to totally have their cake and eat it.

However, realising that he had made a complete ricket by letting Gallas go against Moaninho's wishes and, worse still, allowing to come to Arsenal of all places, Kenyon took steps to mitigate his cock up and curry favour with Moaninho by sanctioning a little poison pen letter discrediting Gallas on the pretence that the PRF had a sudden need to demonstrate transparency and that the followers of the Franchise "had a right to know" what kind of human being Gallas is.

To be honest, I pissed myself laughing when this statement came out because it was indicative of not only how immature, childish and downright pathetic the PRF are, but also how predictably unoriginal they are as well.

Make no mistake, this little statement had the hallmarks of Kenyon and particularly Mourinho written all over it if you think about it. For a start, the fact that he had an unhappy player on his books didn't sit well with Mourinho. He openly admitted it in a press conference around the time the PRF went on their pre-season American tour that he wasn't used to having an unhappy player. More than that, the fact that he had been proved wrong didn't sit well with Mourinho either. Last October at a press conference, he offered to have a bet with anyone in the press that Gallas would still be a Chelsea player 12 months on.

In other words, the departure of Gallas was a dent to the ego of a control freak like Moaninho big time - and he couldn't take it. I'm not saying that Gallas is whiter than white (who is?) but the fact is Mourinho, apart from believing that everyone else in the world is a loser except him, is the kind of chap that simply cannot accept that there are people in this world that are not prepared to dance to his tune, his way of doing things or his way of thinking. He cannot accept that the vast majority of people in this world that do not consider him (or his club) to be the be all and end all in the world of football. And whenever people try to confront him with these realities, you often met with the same kind of crude, crass immaturity that was illustrated in THAT statement issued by the PRF the other day.

To think that Mourinho has often been in the press and media asking for respect on behalf of himself and his club. Ha! The reality is that he is widely seen as part of a set up that is football's answer to Mickey Carroll – they may be rich but because of their boorish, thuggish, lawless attitude, universally despised.

The PRF are always banging on about world domination and that nothing is going to get in their way of achieving it but then so did Hitler once upon a time. I know, this is football not war and I certainly appreciate that football isn't about life and death. But evil dictatorships come in many forms and they are all built on the same things – money, power, fear and intimidation.

The good thing is that more often than not, people of this type that try to rule by these methods tend to make one mistake too many and meet a self inflicted sticky end or are eventually brought down simply because people have had enough of them and end up overthrowing them. That, in time is what will effectively happen to the PRF - and the clock is already ticking.

Still, enough about the PRF, it's time for me to look at the other major acquisition Arsene made, one Julio Baptista. On the face of it, he would appear to be a really good signing for us. He certainly doesn't lack presence, does he?

But, I have to say that I will wait until the end of the season before I make a firm judgement on him simply because I can't help feeling suspicious about him not as a player but as a person. I mean, before he has even kicked a ball in anger for the Arsenal he is already alleged to have said that he would like his long term future to be at The Grove. This is all in stark contrast to 12 months ago when he kept us dangling on a string for weeks and weeks on end only to go and sign for Real Madrid the minute they gave a definite hint that they were interested in him.

More than that, I want to see how he handles the pace and the intensity of the Premiership not to mention the cold, the wind, the rain, the snow and fact that come winter it gets dark at around half past three in the afternoon. If he then signs up for four or five years after that then maybe, just maybe I will be convinced that he is for real. Now, it's time to look forward to our game at home to Boro.

No matter how many things change in life there are still some things that remain the same. Steve McClaren may have departed from the Riverside to be replaced by Gareth Southgate but if the start of their campaign has been anything to go by, it's highly likely that the Boro faithful are in for another roller-coaster of a season.

They went to the home of Premiership new boys Reading, surrendered a 2-0 lead and got beat 3-2 only to come from behind themselves and beat the PRF at the Riverside a few days later thanks to late strike from Mark Viduka. Then, having pulled off such a fantastic result, they then went and let themselves down all over again as Pompey rolled into the Riverside and thumped them 4-0.

I must say that their chairman Steve Gibson really is something else. Through thick and thin he always, always seems to back his managers and Gareth Southgate has been the latest to benefit from Gibson's boundless desire to give the Boro fans a team that they can believe in.

I think the acquisitions of Woodgate, Euell and Huth are fairly shrewd ones. All of these guys have a lot to prove not just to their former employees but to themselves and they should enhance what is a pretty good squad with a good mixture of youth, experience and dare I say it, English talent.

I'm a big fan of the boy Downing. I remember when he made his debut for Boro against us in the FA Cup at Highbury back in 2004. I was sitting with my mate Gazza in the North Bank and when I saw Downing whip over a couple a cracking crosses late on that game I turned to Gazza straightaway and said that the boy would play for England one day.

I'm also a fan of youngsters Lee Cattermole and in particular Tony Morrison. The lad can play anywhere down the right and again it wouldn't surprise me at all if he ends up playing for England one day as well. I don't know if either of these guys will play tomorrow but they are definitely guys for everyone to keep an eye on.

When talking about the major threats to us tomorrow, I suppose you don't have to look further than the likes of Yakubu and Viduka. In many ways they symbolise Boro perfectly because both of them are rather unpredictable but they are both highly capable of damaging the reputations of the very best on their day.

Last year we thumped this lot 7-0 at Highbury. Will there be a repeat? There is more chance of the PRF conducting themselves with dignity and humility and winning the league with a team that came entirely through their own ranks.

I will just be happy with a victory by the odd goal and move on from there. The sooner we dispel any contrived myths about our new stadium being some sort of handicap or millstone round our necks, the better.