Here I am, back again at the hot seat of Arsenal FC. A month away from football
is really too long and I could see it when the team reported back for training.
Well, it was a much-needed break after an all-conquering season. This season there
will be some new challenges. First up, the Charity Shield match against Chelsea
and the European Super Cup match against Aston Villa. The World Club Cup against
Flamengo would soon follow. We will be jetting off to Brazil in January for the
FIFA World Club Championship too. A busy season ahead if I might say so.
Instead of raiding the transfer market like I did last season, I made one purchase
only for the start of this season. Javier Saviola (River Plate) joined for a club
record of £20 million after months of scouting. I recouped half of it through
the sale of Nwankwo Kanu, who went to 1860 Munchen for £11.25 million later
in the season. Gilles Grimandi and Guy Demel left for free after their contracts
had expired. Clint Hill arrived as promised and the whole team set off on a tour
in Denmark. 2 identical 1-0 winds over Lyngby and AB respectively allowed me to
identify the regulars for the season. Further friendlies were arranged against
Wolves (4-0), Brighton (4-2) and Millwall (2-0), before rounding it up with an
obligatory trip to White Hart Lane. We won 2-0, courtesy of goals by Kanu and
Chelsea will be our major rivals this season and they showed it by splashing big
money to lure Paulo Sousa (£7.5m), Steve McManaman (£5.5m), Nicky
Butt (£10.5m) and Henrik Larsson (£10m). It was quite appropriate
that they were our opponents in the Charity Shield. 90 minutes later, Arsenal
crushed Chelsea's hopes with a comprehensive 4-0 win, with goals from Henry, Lauren
and a brace from Bergkamp. The Blues didn't look much of a threat at all.
In the European Super Cup, Arsenal started strongly in the match and scored after
Parlour was put through by Silvinho's pass. Villa defended strongly afterwards,
as both sides failed to find the important breakthrough. In the 24th minute, Bergkamp
played a one-two with Henry before unleashing a shot. GOAL! Aston Villa pulled
one back on the hour through Richard Johnson who managed to slip the ball past
Manninger. Then with 2 minutes remaining, Henry ended Villa's hopes of any comeback
when he scored Arsenal's third. 3-1 to Arsenal!
This added another trophy for the bulging trophy cabinet. The board of directors
was pleased with my handling of the ream and they willingly accepted my proposal
to bid for Jonathan Woodgate. Leeds United accepted the bid of £23 million
but the player would only discuss his future until the season is over. Team shuffle
news, Jonathan Greening was promoted to the 1st team and it looks like Big Dave
will have to make way for Alex Manninger.
Pre-season Statistics : Played 6 Won 6 Scored 14 Conceded 2