Monday, January 22, 2007

BMJ: A thoroughly decent chap

Whether you still love him like last season or you are beginning to feel frustrated or let down by him, I think Big Martin Jol is an incredibly genuine person and the sort of figurehead I want representing our club. He handles the press and match officials so well, even in the immediate response to major disappointment.

Incidentally, I think he is, without question, the guy we want as manager. I am still confident we will qualify for Europe again this season (through one route or another), and although it will only be the UEFA Cup, I don't feel we're yet ready for the Champions League.

So what has made me reiterate my thoughts about Jol's integrity? Well as I ate my cornflakes this morning, I read about what he really thought of our 3-0 drubbing at the Immigrants Stadium in December. "I didn't say it after the match but one goal wasn't a penalty and their third was a handball. So I think we were unfortunate but I couldn't say anything because we didn't play well so hopefully we can put that straight now.'

Correct. Yes the scum scored two dodgy goals against us, but we were so lame that we didn't have a leg to stand on when it came to arguing the point. BMJ kept quiet at the time because there was nothing he could have said that would pacify us fans. And now, in the build up to our next match against them, it's fair enough that he starts a few mind games and adds to the pre-match banter.

Some fans believe Jol is too nice. I have heard it argued that if he got a bit angrier, threw a few more hissy fits and slagged off a few more referees, then maybe more decisions would go our way. I think that is a load of cobblers. Referees, like all human beings, make mistakes from time to time - they are not deliberately biased, and whether managers give them a hard time or not will not affect future decisions they make towards that particular manager's team.

Personally, when Mendes' goal at Old Trafford was disallowed, I was pleased and proud of BMJ's public response. After Keane scored at Highbury and World War III was about to erupt, I think BMJ did a great job of trying nip the whole issue in the bud when it came to the media interviews. I'm sure on both occasions what when on in private is a different matter, but how he represents the club publicly is incredibly important.

At the end of the season these things tend to have evened themselves out - so maybe we should all take a leaf out of Jol's book and behave with a bit more grace, integrity and maturity. We can all rant and rave but it never seems to change the result! If we lose, I think we should conduct ourselves with dignity off the pitch.

There is a classic video clip available online on this very subject which shows Jol speaking at one of the official THFC Q&A sessions. Check it out and I'm sure it will raise a smile:

Anyway, back to Arsenal. Yes, Jol knows we were poor last time and no excuses could justify our performance. But this time we're starting with a clean slate. Let's believe in his ability to pick the right team, select the right tactics, and motivate the players. We've a massive game on Wednesday and it's time that we're all 'as one' going into it.

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