Continuing on from Part I yesterday, here’s Part II and completion of the interview.
Me : What new features will the media group or you in particular, looking to add to the new season?
JJ : We’ve got 5 or 6 reporters who work for the media group and we’re constantly looking to improve/expand on our content across all platforms with the intention of giving the fans what you want. Which is also why at the end of every season, we asked fans to complete surveys and suggest what type of content they will like to see on Arsenal publications. Social media is quite a big thing, so we’re trying to tweet more. The Twitter Takeover was a move towards that direction.
Me : Just so you know, I submitted a lot of question but none of mine was ever picked!
JJ : Sorry about that. I’d like you to know that it wasn’t me who chose the question. You’ve got find the person who’s responsible for that. But yeah, during that session we had thousands of questions and received good feedback about it. So, we’ll be trying to do more what the fans like and are interested about. For next year, we are also planning to do a digital match programme for the iPad so that all around the world, the fans who couldn’t be at the ground could have a copy of the programme. You could be here in Malaysia 10 minutes before a game and read it like you’re at the stadium.
Me : That is a very good step. I was there last season for 2 games and there’s a lot of nice contents on the matchday programme with plenty of statistics as well.
JJ : Yeah, the statistic part was my influence. It has got a lot of content inside it to be honest. We’re lucky that we’re Arsenal Football Club and we’re one of the biggest club in the world. So, there’s always something to talk about, things to write and so on. It’s a big task to produce it almost on a weekly basis but there’s so much content available that it’s never particularly hard to churn the programme out. There’s always little stories here and there to put into the programme. Like for instance – the last time we played Sunderland in the first game of the season, we won the league. It’s little historical things like that which are interesting and can be added into the programme.
Me : All great stuffs. If you don’t mind, perhaps some question on the current team…
JJ : If I can answer that I will.
Me : Don’t worry, no secret will be revealed here. What do think of the squad this season and how do you see us do?
JJ : Speaking as a fan, it’s always difficult to answer at this stage of the season. You can ask next week, it could be different. You can ask me next month, it could be different.
Me : I personally can’t remember the last time we had a quiet summer.
JJ : Of the comings and goings? Yeah. The manager said himself that he still wants to get a couple of players in. Though that depends on who goes as well. As you can see, those who are not here (on the Asian Tour) are probably leaving. Like Nicklas Bendtner…
Me : Have you heard about AC Milan being linked with him today?
JJ : Really? I didn’t know that. Nicklas Bendtner? (At this point, I think JJ don’t rate NB given his puzzled look when I said AC Milan) I generally try to stay away from transfer rumours/speculation. To answer your question. Last season we had a problem with the goals conceded. We always score goals, there’s no worry of that. If we can shore up the defence, it will be a massive boost and we’ll see how we go from there. I think if you ask any Arsenal fan, they would be quite happy with our starting back four of Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen or Mertesacker and Santos or Gibbs. If they can stay fit, I’m sure we can improve on the goals conceded column.
Me : To tie in with that, do you think that the promotion of Steve Bould will have any impact on the defence?
JJ : Interesting, I was interviewing Szczesny today and he already mentioned that Bould as being someone whom he thinks can help to improve the team. Bould knows a lot about defending and if he can’t do it…….but Bould will definitely be involved in that part of the coaching. However, at Arsenal there’s no specific lines drawn on which coach trains which part of the game, everyone is involved. Everyone is responsible for every part of the training. I’m sure he will shout at the players if they are not doing something right. But in any case, if they concede fewer goals this season, who knows. We got to this point every season excited, nervous and looking at what other teams are doing, all the same time.
Me : I would trade just about anything to have a summer where we don’t have all these “big players leaving” and just get on with preparing of a new season.
JJ : Me too! We’ve just got to have faith in the manager. He obviously turned it around last year after the difficult end to the transfer window and the defeat at Old Trafford. I do believe that the Champions League qualifiers played a big part. Playing those Udinese games so early was so important and with all the travelling. Physically and mentally it was tough on the team. I think stats would prove that. We don’t have that this season and hopefully we’ll be able to start better this time around. We did beat Chelsea, City and Spurs and went on a long winning run last season so we can’t say that the team is not good enough. We know we’ve got to be a more consistent and with a little luck on the injury side, who knows. We just got to get all the good things together and get rid of the bad things. Thankfully, that’s Mr Wenger’s job, not mine.
Me : I’m going to ask for a prediction.
JJ : I would rather you ask me on the 1st of September but I guess you want an answer now. I would say we’ll win a trophy. Do you want me to say which one?
Me : No necessary, any trophy is fine in my book.
JJ : Hah! Most fans would, won’t they.
Me : Yup. Even the Capital One cup! Because it’ll breed a winning mentality within the team.
JJ : Yeah, like that year we lost to Birmingham in the final. We lost by a freak incident at the end, if that didn’t happened, things could be a whole lot different now. I think we were unlucky that day but that’s football. It won’t continue to happen though, the unlucky part. So hopefully we’ll be able to do something this new season.
Me : Fingers crossed. Last question. This is your 2nd time in Malaysia? How has it been? Apart from the heat that is.
JJ : Yes, my 2nd time. No, the weather is great. We came from rain everywhere and the cold, it’s nice to be in a warmer climate. We arrived on Friday, 2 days earlier than the team. I didn’t get to see any of Kuala Lumpur last year but at least I’ve been able to get around a bit this year. I’ve seen the Petronas Twin Towers and the Chinatown. I loved the satay here! Food wise, I’ve only tried a little, most of it was taken right here in the hotel. It is all very nice! (I checked, he wasn’t trying to be nice). But the team has arrived today, so it’s going to be busy from now on (in fact, JJ had to rushed off for a meeting after this). The work starts now. I know the people back home in London won’t like it when I say this is work. They are there while I’m here halfway across the world. I do realize it’s a privilege and I’m very happy to be here.
Me : Thanks for your time JJ.
(I promised to take him around the next time he’s here and not just eat at the hotel. Maybe Arsenal will return again next year? )
That’s all for the chat/interview. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.