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Politica e lingue

COMMON LANGUAGE AT ARSENAL

SOCCER SHOWCASE-VIEIRA, PETIT SPEAK COMMON LANGUAGE AT ARSENAL

BY ROBERT WOODWARD
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND, MAY 14 (REUTERS) – ARSENAL’S EXTRAORDINARY RUN OF SUCCESS THIS SEASON MAY BE DOWN TO ONE THING — LANGUAGE LESSONS.
IN THE LONDON CLUB’S EARLY GAMES, THE DRESSING ROOM WAS LIKE THE TOWER OF BABEL AS ENGLISH DEFENDER TRIED TO EXPLAIN TO FRENCH MIDFIELDER THE CONCEPT OF "SQUEEZING THE LINE" WHILE A DUTCH FORWARD ACTED AS INTERPRETER.
ON THE PITCH, IN THE HEAT OF A PREMIER LEAGUE GAME, THE BATTLE PLAN OFTEN FELL APART AS PLAYERS FAILED TO COMMUNICATE THEIR INTENTIONS AT VITAL MOMENTS.
FRENCH MIDFIELDER PATRICK VIEIRA SPOKE NO ENGLISH WHEN HE ARRIVED AT HIGHBURY AND, DESPITE A STRING OF EXCELLENT PERFORMANCES, HIS AGGRAVATION AT HIS LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT WAS GOING ON SPILLED OVER.
STRANGELY, HE TOOK OUT HIS ANGER BY CONSTANTLY ARGUING WITH REFEREES IN STILTED ENGLISH, EARNING HIMSELF A CLUTCH OF YELLOW CARDS FROM BEMUSED OFFICIALS.
BUT AS THE ARSENAL TITLE CHALLENGE SLIPPED AT THE END OF LAST YEAR VIEIRA, FELLOW MIDFIELDER EMMANUAL PETIT AND FORWARD NICOLAS ANELKA, ALL FRENCH, DECIDED IT WAS TIME FOR TOUGH ACTION AND THEY ENROLLED IN LANGUAGE LESSONS.
FROM DECEMBER 13 UNTIL THE EVERTON GAME ON MAY 3 WHEN THEY CLINCHED THE TITLE, ARSENAL DID NOT LOSE A LEAGUE MATCH AND THEIR COHESION IN DEFENCE AND ATTACK WAS A WONDER TO BEHOLD. THE LANGUAGE LESSONS HAD LOOSENED UP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION.
"WE NOW SPEAK TOGETHER ON THE PITCH. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR ME AND THE FRENCH PLAYERS BECAUSE THERE WERE WORDS AND PHRASES THAT WE DIDN’T UNDERSTAND," PETIT SAID ON THURSDAY AS ARSENAL PREPARED FOR SATURDAY’S F.A. CUP FINAL AGAINST NEWCASTLE.
"NOW WE ALWAYS USE ENGLISH ON THE PITCH BUT SOMETIMES WHEN WE ARE MOVING AT SPEED THE REFLEX IS STILL TO SPEAK IN FRENCH."
THE COMBINATION OF PETIT AND VIEIRA IN MIDFIELD HAS BEEN THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND ARSENAL’S QUEST FOR THE DOUBLE BUT VIEIRA, IN PARTICULAR, WAS ACCUSED OF BEING PETULANT AND OCCASIONALLY VICIOUS THIS SEASON.
VIEIRA, 21, SAID HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN DETERMINED AND "POSITIVELY AGGRESSIVE", BUT HE FOUND IT DIFFICULT TO FIND THE RIGHT RAPPORT WITH ENGLISH REFEREES.
AFTER TALKING WITH SENIOR PLAYERS AND MANAGER ARSENE WENGER, HE REALISED HE HAD TO CALM DOWN AND ACCEPT THE BAD DECISIONS WITH THE GOOD.
"IN ENGLAND YOU HAVE MORE DIALOGUE WITH THE REFEREE THAN IN FRANCE. SOMETIMES IF YOU DON’T PLAY WELL OR YOU’VE LOST, YOU WANT TO DISCUSS IT WITH THE REFEREE AFTERWARDS," VIEIRA SAID.
"NOW I REALISE THAT IF YOU PLAY BADLY, IT’S NOT THE REFEREE’S FAULT. I’VE KEPT THE SAME DETERMINATION ON THE PITCH BUT I UNDERSTAND NOW THAT IF YOU WANT TO PLAY YOUR BEST, YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR HEAD."
TO ADD TO THE MULTILINGUAL HARMONY OF THE HIGHBURY DRESSING ROOM, SOME OF THE ENGLISH PLAYERS ARE LEARNING FRENCH AND CAPTAIN TONY ADAMS NOW WELCOMES HIS FRENCH TEAM MATES WITH "BONJOUR, COMMENT CA VA?" EVERY MORNING.
14-05-98

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