About John Guillem

Though half British, half Catalan-Mexican, football was somehow a late arrival in John's life. While as a child he dallied with Liverpool and Manchester United (mostly via the medium of football stickers) and Barcelona (the team of half of his family), he today supports Arsenal after finally deciding upon the Gunners as a fully-formed, adult human male.

Arsenal: Devilish Advocacy and Second-Guessing Mesut Özil

Mesut-Ozil-Arsenal-Debut


Arsenal fan John Guillem discusses the virtues of Mesut Özil, and how he slots into Arsene Wenger’s side…

I won’t say much about the transfer itself. Not only is it a bit late by now to be doing so, but we’ve had our earlobes strained unto tedium by endless responses and counter-responses. However, I will say that part of the motivation for this piece has been pique at the quasi-hysterical reaction by the Arsenal fanbase – fair enough, on one level, but definitely annoying as all hell, particularly for a habitually frigid fan such as myself. So as to investigate the parameters of my own excitement (is it the head or the loins talking?), I’ve dredged out some problems raised by Mesut’s arrival in North London (that are perhaps being overlooked), scum emerging from the mire below.

I don’t buy any of the crap we’ve all read about Özil being a new blade purchased when what was really needed was a shield or perhaps some pepper spray or whatever. I would say that on paper he’s exactly what Arsenal needed most. Certainly, the squad lacks depth in the striking positions (although they do now have Thor himself returned to Arsegard), but it’s becoming increasingly clear to non-Gooners that Giroud can finish and contribute to buildup with great effectiveness. Similarly, people bleating about signing a physical dm/box-to-boxer were missing the point: for the way Arsenal play, Arteta is excellent for the holding role, and with Ramsey exceptional at defending (33 tackles so far this season with a close on 100% success rate) and Flamini providing a credible and effective alternative, there’s no need to be worrying. Vieira (for whom Gooners still pang at night) was hugely imposing and physical, but he was also technically brilliant. Aside from a few (expensive/aging) players like Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, maybe Daniele De Rossi, there wouldn’t be many who’d fit that bracket today. Continue reading

The False Nine take on the BBC Premier League predictor

Hansen

The Premier League kicks off tomorrow, and in preparation for the new season the TFN crew have taken to the BBC Premier League predictor to try guesstimate how the league table will look come May 2014…

With each entry completed by a different writer, with different methods and bias galore, we’re hoping the wisdom of the crowds will help us out to divine a more balanced final conclusion, even if our sample size is against us.

After reading through the tables and reasoning (or apologies) of each writer, scroll down to the end of the piece for a meta-table created using the average points collected by each club based on our individual predictions.

Our results may not be entirely accurate, or even intentional in some cases, but we at least hope they’re entertaining, and if you fancy having a go on the BBC predictor, feel free to send over your table to thefalsenine@yahoo.co.uk to help inform our final results!

Without further ado, let the anomalies and prediction catastrophes commence…  Continue reading

Iniesta the Great: Crowded Out of History by Zidane and Laudrup?

iniesta

The False Nine’s Greg Johnson, Rob Brown and John Guillem take a look at the brilliance of Andrés Iniesta, Michael Laudrup and Zinedine Zidane, and ask who is the greatest…

Football today is a package deal of quasi-mythological narratives, disseminated and consumed by the widest possible array of people. Hipsters, tweeters and bloggers all have as much of a vested interest1 as former internationals with limited vocabularys. We see so much attention going to the playing careers of former greats such as Michael Laudrup, often by those who never witnessed his football first hand or even second hand, from the reportage of the day.

This is not to say that players now experienced third-hand through the distance of time and history – Di Stefano, Puskas, Schiaffino, Masopust and their ilk – weren’t as utterly magical as their legends suggest. Due to our age, we lack the personally acquired experiences and evidence required to know for sure, but from reading the accounts of published witnesses, listening to the memories and thoughts of senior fans and pundits, and watching the various selectively edited YouTube montages and videos now available, it seems that those purported to be worthy of a place in football’s cultural canon were indeed sublime. In a sense, we’ll never really know, because one of the main selling-points that contemporary football has is the personal aspect of its narratives.

Introverted yet influential, with an unfussy technical excellence and an ever-growing list of honours and feats accumulating upon his mantelpiece, Andrés Iniesta is now something of a living football saint to both the self-appointed connoisseurs of the game and well-grounded, matter-of-fact spectators alike. The Spaniard seems shrouded by an almost unknowable mystique of significance which pervades his every action, from the elegance of his touch up to his trophy winning goals and assists. Continue reading

Match Journal Entry #1: Brazil vs. England

1021340-16496230-640-360

In a new series for Summer 2013, The False Nine team will provide talking points from the matches they’ve watched. First up, John Guillem on England’s visit to Brazil…

-          Prescript: since the game, I have suffered nightmares for the past pair of nights. Murdered ‘Arry in one of them ONLY TO TRANSFORM INTO HIM [!] That one was bad. Chased down the road by Woy with a butterfly night in another. The implications of these are yet to be fully determined. Watching England is bloody miserable, harrowing, traumatic (even if you don’t care) perhaps to a degree which extends beyond the conventional contemporary psychopathology of numbness and alienation…can I get my (figurative) money back?

-          Obvious but still merits statement: England had an extremely depleted squad, and the players who were available dictated our strategy and performance for this game. It’s heartening to see that we can still be hard to break down (though Brazil do suck) with such a weak squad.

-          This was the perfect game for Joe ‘world class’ Hart. Lots of shots to stop but we were playing a side lacking clinicality and aerial/indirect set piece threats of any note. Continue reading

The TFN Writers Awards: 2012-13

BalePFA

The False Nine team respond to the results of the 2013 PFA Awards with their own picks for Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Manager of the Year…

Continuing on in his quest to become Wales’ answer to Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale was last night crowned as Player’s Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year at the 2013 PFA Awards at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. His double win follows in the footsteps of Ronaldo who achieved the same feat in 2007.

While the main prize of the PFA Awards is voted for by the players of the Premier League, here at TFN we didn’t want to miss out on the fun and so have taken upon ourselves to put forward our own picks for Player, Young Player and Manager of the Year. Continue reading

The Quadruple Gervinho

tumblr_lu0ya4qbWf1qgqytao1_500

John Guillem investigates the delight and infuriation of Arsenal forward Gervinho…

I’ve always liked Gervinho – that is, since I first noticed him on football manager. That was back when he and Eljero Elia were the go-to speedy wingmen to be had for about 12 mill; unfortunately, I had to settle for the cheaper option of Arda Turan, who actually turned out rather well. At that, in the “real” world Turan is clearly the best of those three at this point in time – what the hell happened to Elia after his promising appearances in the 2010 World Cup? I guess Juventus did, whilst they were still cursed1 – this in spite of the promise Gervinho was showing between 2009-11.

‘What went wrong?’ I don’t like these kinds of questions, as within them they contain a huge amount of reduction and misdirection (which is another way of saying that they’re bloody stupid), but perhaps this article will get somewhere on that score. Continue reading

A Brief Meditation on Wesley Sneijder (& his deriders)

John Guillem takes a brief look at Dutch maestro Wesley Sneijder, once the best player in world football…

Wesley Sneijder used to be the best player in the world. No, really. By which I mean he was the key performer for the most successful team of a specific season (perhaps you know what I’m talking about) as well as joint top-scoring in the World Cup for the beaten finalists. Certainly there was an element of fortune to some of those goals (one against Brazil in particular springs to mind), and his performance was a little overhyped in that tournament, but in the 2009-10 Champions League he was excellent (and in Serie A and the Coppa Italia, only less so), and – if not then, then certainly by now – his performances for his club that year were overlooked. Continue reading