- Arsene Wenger needs to strengthen for Arsenal to compete at the top
- Mathieu Flamini is not up to the level of Patrick Vieira
- Arsenal are too reliant on the inconsistent Olivier Giroud up front
- Diego Simeone has done an unbelievable job to win La Liga with Atletico
- Newcastle fans deserve their team to be competing for silverware
- Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad is brave but he made the right decisions
18:01 EST, 18 May 2014
18:01 EST, 18 May 2014
Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Allen returns with the latest installment of his new weekly column for MailOnline Sport. The former Gillingham boss does not hold back with his views on current issues in football.
The Wenger boys
After Arsenal’s FA Cup final win at the weekend they are finally on the edge of competing with and beating the top teams. I’m sure through the summer Arsene Wenger will recruit an experienced, top-class central midfield player and a proven centre forward.
In central midfield they’ve tried Mathieu Flamini and signed Sweden international Kim Kallstrom on loan. But neither are up to the level of a Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane, Nemanja Matic or David Luiz.
Silverware: Arsenal won the 2014 FA Cup after coming from behind to beat Hull in a thrilling final
Uplifting: Mathieu Flamini (centre) lifts the FA Cup with Olivier Giroud (second left) next to him
Back: Flamini returned to Arsenal last summer
Steady: Giroud scored 22 goals in all competitions
They are players who sit in front of the back four and have the influence of a man of steel in the spine of the team. Up front Arsenal have lacked depth, relying on the inconsistent Olivier Giroud.
Wenger needs to spend big and spend well and he could turn them into a team which can compete at the very top of the Barclays Premier League.
This season when they lost Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott mid-way through the season, it ended their title chances. They did not have enough depth to cover for them.
Hero: Aaron Ramsey scored the winning goal for Arsenal in extra-time to seal a 3-2 win at Wembley
Glory: Arsene Wenger lifts the FA Cup in front of thousands of spectators outside the Emirates Stadium
Both of those players have energy and the ability to turn games, as we saw with Ramsey’s winner on Saturday to bring Wenger his first silverware in nine years.
Their weakness through the season has been losing to the best teams. Arsenal have beaten all of the others hands down but struggled against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
I’m certain, with some top quality players – similar to the level of Mesut Ozil – brought in, they can push on from the FA Cup win and make the last step up to mix it with the big boys.
Diego Simeone surely a top target
Another great result of the weekend was Atletico Madrid’s draw against Barcelona to win the La Liga title.
Atletico’s manager Diego Simeone has done an unbelievable job pipping the Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid to be champions. And they have the chance to complete a sensational double when they face Real in the Champions League final on Saturday.
Atletico have shown good team spirit, have tight organisation, clever player recruitment and proven that anything is possible for any team.
Against all odds: Atletico Madrid were crowned Spanish champions after a draw at Barcelona on the final day
Mastermind: Diego Simeone is hoisted in the air by his players after Atletico won the Spanish league
Simeone must be a target for all the top clubs now. He is humble, he is down-to-earth, and he has clearly instilled in his players the magnificent values of respect on and off the field.
Real Madrid and Barcelona – with all their Galacticos, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – must be scratching their heads wondering what they’ve got to do and where they have gone wrong.
It is similar, I guess, in our Premier League, to Newcastle, with their wonderful fan base and huge 52,000-seater stadium, winning the league and going on to reach the Champions League final.
No-one would think that possible right now.
Newcastle fans deserve their club to be challenging in cup competitions and not to be told they are not bothered about winning the FA or League Cup.
Privately, of course, it is only the Premier League that counts to clubs, but to go public with it and take away that hope seems mad to me.
Uninspiring: Newcastle’s season petered out into a rather disappointing mid-table finish
Newcastle have spent barely any money in recent years and still more than 50,000 supporters fill their stadium at every home game. Just after Christmas I watched Alan Pardew’s side play at West Ham and they were absolutely magnificent.
They had pace, they were tight defensively, they had excellent technical players. In Yohan Cabaye playing behind the striker they had a player who could slide passes between the back four and on to the pace of the outstanding Loic Remy in front of him.
Soon after that they sold Cabaye, Remy was hamstrung with injury and their season was over.
Newcastle were hanging around the fifth and sixth places earlier in the season and in position to challenge for Champions League qualification.
Disgruntled: Newcastle fans have made their feelings on the current regime known
Pardew was being spoken of as a potential manager of the year and future England manager.
But they have lost their best players and the club is draining any hope of a bright future from the fans.
Back him and don’t sack him
Roy Hodgson’s choice of players for this World Cup in Brazil is brave and, for me, he has made the right decisions. Leaving out Jermain Defoe and Ashley Cole, especially after Ashley’s outstanding recent performances for Chelsea, were probably his toughest calls.
But as fans we will have to be patient and not go into this tournament expecting victories.
I was in South Africa at the last World Cup to watch them in Cape Town in a lifeless 0-0 draw with Algeria and Port Elizabeth when they scraped through the group in a 1-0 win against Slovenia.
In the spotlight: Roy Hodgson named his England squad for the World Cup last Monday
Staying home: Ashley Cole was left out of the World Cup squad and retired from international football
Our ageing team had no energy, could not compete athletically and as a supporter it was awful to watch.
Everyone was expecting, and of course hoping, that England would be good enough to get to the semis or the final.
It was important we started looking to the future. These young lads who Roy has picked will hopefully be the mainstay of our team for the next World Cup in Russia.
I think then this country could pull off a few shocks and surprises.
My week… A Dog’s Life
On Tuesday night it was back to West Ham United for a game between an ex-West Ham XI and a West Ham fans XI – who had the full match-day experience against a few legends – and for some reason they asked me along too.
Pre-match meal for me was double pie, double mash and liquor, which I ate in the club car park an hour-and-a-half before kick off.
Just round the corner from the ground, Nathan’s Pie Shop has been running for about 40 years and lovely old Brenda, we call her blue-rinse Brenda, who has worked their for 25 years, showed the real East End spirit by folding up £10 in her hand to give to the Great Ormond Street bucket collectors at Upton Park, who we were raising money that day.
It’s funny, going back and being in that tunnel just remembering the old days. The heart starts to race, the nostrils start to snarl, and the eyes start to squint.
In the tunnel I was back to my old ways, eyeing up the opposition, just like I used to when I played there. The adrenaline rush is quite unbelievable.
But you soon realise when you cross the white line that you can’t get about the pitch anymore and you certainly can’t tackle, intimidate and dominate your opponent like you used to.
Dean Ashton was magnificent. Frank McAvennie was slower than me but had some magic touches.
Rob Lee was fit as a butcher’s dog and showed class.
All in all, it was a great night raising money for the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and it’s a special feeling meeting back up with your former team-mates and remembering old times.
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Article source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2632145/MAD-DOG-ON-MONDAY-Arsenal-need-world-class-central-midfielder-striker-turn-FA-Cup-success-league-glory-not-Mathieu-Flamini-Olivier-Giroud.html