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Monday 14 April

'Wake up early. I set my alarm clock for later but, naturellement,
someone has been in my room
during the night and adjusted the time. I will not say who - we will
let others judge.


I trip over the rug in my bedroom. The rug is not penalised in any way.
If furnishings are
allowed to keep getting away with these travesties of justice then it
is the end for Arsene.
I am waiting for a package but my postman - who seemed to get himself
in a good position -
fails to deliver. Is my postman Emmanuel Eboue?










For sure it has not been the best of starts for me but I am working
hard to make sure that
nothing bothers me anymore but getting on with the job. I have lunch
with my friend William at
Pizza Express.



I have a Pizza a la Noci, but William doesn't want anything off the
children's menu. I try to
tell him he must have something and he goes out the door and sits on a
traffic island for the
next three hours. He is an excellent role model to my young team.



Next I meet Phillipe Senderos on a street corner. It is good to see
him. However as soon as we
leave that corner I lose him very easily and he spends the rest of the
afternoon about ten
yards away from me at all times. It is very frustrating.








I return to my car to find that a penalty fine has been given against
me. Strange how all the
other cars on the street have not been given tickets and yet they are
all parked too.


The traffic warden tells me they are not parked on double yellow lines
like mine. I tell him
that I know what is going on, I am not stupid. He asks me what I mean
and I smile and say 'Let
us think our own thoughts, mon ami.'








It takes me an age to get to the training ground. All the traffic
lights are against me. Red
and yellow lights everywhere, but only for me.



Finally I arrive and I'm greeted by my squad of wonderful players.
Adebayor and Bendtner are
holding hands and laughing and joking as usual.








Jens Lehmann is giving everyone fine words of encouragement as befits
his status as our senior
professional. Young Theo is coming on leaps and bounds with his French
A-levels.


I call the boys together and tell them they are all winners. They play
the best football. Then
we play my favourite practising game 'Twenty Passes Before You Can
Score.'







Hoyte is terrible at this. Adebayor suggests we practise our free-kicks
and corners - then
every one falls about laughing! He is a funny guy.



It is great that humour can break the tension. I tell them another joke
- that Alex Ferguson is
going to buy van Persie for 10 million euros. Why does Robin not laugh?








Then I get serious with the boys. I tell them not to listen to the
voices in their head that
tell them to be paranoid. I tell them not to be neurotic - just leave
that to me.


I tell them not to be concerned for my mental state. I may be a bit
wobbly right now but I'm
not Tom Hicks. I tell them that we will come back stronger, fitter and
better than ever.







Cesc, le petit Espagnol, asks if I will be able to buy anyone in the
summer to bolster the
squad. I smile and nod. He need not worry. I have my eye on two Malian
goat-herders as we speak
plus a fine central defender from the Finnish second division.



In five years, I tell him, they will be football Gods comme Cygan et
Stepanovs, especially the
girl from Helsinki.








During training the boys look sad and tired. Moi aussi. Staying
positive in this situation is
about as feasible as winning a penalty at Old Trafford.



Sometimes, I think to myself that I am the only one who understood Eric
Cantona's sardines and
trawler story. I too have been charting new territory in my elegant
vessel the SS Arsenal (it
would have been a 747 liner but we had to keep Bergkamp with us in the
early years.)







Many have followed us with delight, but many others have tried to peck
out the eyes of my
vision. There have been stormy waters and troubled times. We were les
Invincibles and
maintenant, we are les Miserables.



My seagulls are not journalists and reporters. They are the
sight-forsaken Rileys and Wileys of
this world. These men of selective vision (and I know how that works,
believe me!) People
accuse me of having a persecution complex but these people are just out
to get me.






I am a man of principle. There are ways to play le beau jeu but I know
only one. I will not
change. And we shall not crumble like an Englishman on the last day of
a major golf tournament.
And if it never succeeds again then it won't be my fault.



Because I tell you this, mes amis:

Non, Je ne regrette rien!*

*Except picking Senderos. And moving Toure to right-back. Oh and
selling Diarra.'
 
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