I'm now in my third season as Arsenal's manager. After losing my aging
'Back Four' in the summer, my defense is in need of a major upheaval.
Old stalwarts such as Keown and Luzhniy were sold to Leeds (£325k)
and Sunderland (£1.7m) respectively. Moritz Volz (£300k) went
to Exeter, Christopher Wreh (Bradford), Stefan Malz and Jeremie Aliardiere
all left on free transfers. Dixon retired while Seaman decided to help
out on our youth development as goalkeeper-cum-coach. Igor Stepanovs,
Garry Ryan and Israel da Silva were transfer listed. I promoted Vernazza,
Canoville, Cole and Clegg to the first team. In order to fill up the void
in the Reserves team, I bought 16-year olds Marcus Benson (Man City),
Jonathan Young (Man Utd) and Frank Nicholls (Preston) for a total of £2.8
million. Although Hill and Canoville were capable of forging a steady
partnership with Ferdinand, there was still a problem with my central
defense as I lack an experienced player. So, Leeds accepted a £23
million bid for Woodgate, but a sudden twist of events led to my board
of directors rejecting to finance the purchase. They later informed me
that other clubs were bidding at a much lower price. News reports later
confirmed that and Leeds rejected several offers ranging from £7
- £9 million. I retable a bid of £11.75 million and secured
his signature. With Richard Wright joining before the start of the season, my
squad was ready.
I arranged a pre-season friendly tour of the United States. We played
3 games over there and the new defensive back four of Silvinho, Woodgate,
Ferdinand and Upson combined well as we won against DC United (1-0), Kansas
City Wizards (3-0) and NY/NJ Metrostars (5-0).
On the other hand, the new-look Reserves were held to a 0-0 draw against Bolton Wanderers. The
first time Arsenal had dropped points in their pre-season friendlies.
But they rebounded well against Crystal Palace with a 4-1 victory.
Then came the annual trip down White Hart Lane. The confidence I had with
my defense was torn apart in 90 minutes. Unimpressive Tottenham managed
to put 3 goals past goalkeeper Wright. Luckily our pride was restored
when Bergkamp, Vieira, Woodgate and Ferdinand scored, as we managed to
squeeze a 4-3 win over our local rivals.
We were up against another local rivals, Chelsea in the Charity Shield.
68,000 gathered at Old Trafford to watch us play. Surprisingly, Chelsea
decided to stick to their current squad this season while selling Paulo
Sousa, Steve McManaman and Ed de Goey to Juventus (£6m), Liverpool
(£3.8m) and Manchester City (£220k) respectively. Vieira opened
the scoring in the 43rd minute, when he headed in a cross from Parlour.
Then on the hour, Bergkamp scored a brilliant goal in off the bar after
great work by Joe Cole on the left. Chelsea went close in the dying minutes
but they were held back by my efficient defense. 2-0 to Arsenal and we've
won the Charity Shield for a record equaling 12 times held by Manchester
Galatasaray was our opponent in the European Super Cup match. As any Gunner
fan should know, we lost on penalties to them in the UEFA Cup 2 seasons
ago. Now it's time for revenge. Galatasaray repeated their success last
season after beating another British club, Southampton. 19,000 fans of
both sides were on hand to see the match at the Stade Louis II Stadium
in Monaco. We started off well and threatened to open scoring in the first
few minutes but was thwarted by poor finishing. Then in the 17th minute,
a one-two with Henry allowed Bergkamp to sneak through the Galatasaray
defense. GOAL! 7 minutes later, Henry turned provider again by passing
to Bergkamp who tried it from a distance. GOAL! We were in control of
the match after that and kept most of the possession. 9 minutes before
halftime, Upson tore down the right flank before sending in a teasing
cross which flew past the Galatasaray defense and fell at Cole's feet.
GOAL! Joe Cole scored Arsenal's third of the night. In the second half,
Wiltord replaced the injured Bergkamp and he made his presence felt by
scoring a goal in the 75th minute. Jardel got a consolation goal for Galatasaray
in the 86th minute but we had already secured our revenge. We've finally
beaten them fair and square.
Pre-season Statistics : Played 6 Won 5 Draw 1 Scored 17 Conceded 4