May I just start this morning by saying that earaches are cunts? Thank you.
As expected Alex Hleb admitted his charge of violent conduct and now misses the final three games of the season. A chance for someone else to shine, perhaps. While second is still a remote possibility there’s no chance of us finishing outside the Champions League places, so maybe we might see a little promotion of youth for the run in. With the boss set to blood Fabianski in goal what’s to say he won’t give players like Barazite or Nordtveit a game here and there (the latter hoping he can be the man to solve Arsenal defensive problems next season, the majority, with the greatest of respect to the lad, hoping we’re not reliant on a 17 year old).
The boss has laid out his transfer plans for the summer. The main target is to keep everyone together and then add to the squad. So when some of them leave it kind of puts those plans up in the air, doesn’t it? We know who the players in doubt are, we’ve spoken about them enough. The manager was prickly at suggestions he doesn’t know what he’s doing, can’t blame him for that. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing – whether what he’s doing is 100% correct is the question.
Speaking of transfer targets though the boss said:
Who we will buy in the summer is not decided yet, but I have players in mind. We have lists which we keep up to date, player number one, two, three or four in the positions were we look for – and you go of course for the number one. There is money there but not as much as I read in the newspapers.
So talk of a Â£70m warchest is fairly ludicrous. And the idea of Arsene Wenger actually spending Â£70m if he had it even more so. Anyway, I think it’s too early to start talking about the summer and the transfer market, we really do have to see what’s what with the likes of Flamini, Hleb, Gilberto and co before we can make any sensible analysis of our needs.
Kolo Toure says Arsenal weren’t calm enough to win the league this season and that we lost our minds a bit. None more so than captain William Gallas after the Birmingham game. According to Kolo:
I think he has been really good for us for us at the start of the season. And then after this Birmingham game he made a mistake, he knows that, and we all tried to bring him back to the team and he came back to the team well. But when you make a mistake it is difficult after that and I think it is not only that, we can think it was a really important part of our season.
Interesting choice of words those. He was good ‘at the start of the season’, ‘we all tried to bring him back to the team’, ‘it was a really important part of our season’.
Fact is when the chips were down so was Gallas. I think our poor run of form had nothing to do with the FA Cup game at United but coincided with the captain of the football club’s histrionics and selfishness at Birmingham. How can a group of players look at their captain storm off, refuse to help defend a penalty then sit on the pitch and blub like a baby and not be affected by it?
I know there were strange circumstances at the time, but every player had witnessed Eduardo’s injury, every player felt for Bacary Sagna after his tragic loss, every player knew it wasn’t a penalty against Clichy, only one player threw a hissy-fit and made himself and Arsenal look like idiots. It’s times like that you need your leaders to stand up and be counted, to rouse their troops, to gee everyone up, get things going on. It’s telling that Toure talks about them having to try and bring Gallas back. I can’t imagine Tony Adams sitting on a football pitch crying in similar circumstances, I can’t imagine Patrick Vieira refusing to defend a penalty. I don’t think Gallas is any kind of leader.
I can fully accept that Gallas did good things for us this season. He led the team well in the first half, at least, but then this was a team with momentum, without pressure, playing really well and with lots of belief and confidence. The measure of your captain though comes when things turn, when times are hard and players need someone to lead them into battle. We needed Gallas to do that after the Birmingham game, instead he sat down and cried. For a young and relatively inexperienced side that’s hardly inspirational, is it? Is then any surprise that results suffered after this?
The players appeared shellshocked post-Birmingham. I’m sure seeing a teammate so badly injured was part of it but I’m also sure seeing the captain of the club throw a tantrum like that had an effect too. There were stories after the game that senior players (Gilberto, Flamini and Adebayor) had confronted Gallas about his behaviour, dressing room strife, losing respect for your captain, these are things that can upset the fine balance in a team.
So for me that’s why the Gallas experiment has failed. He had a chance to prove himself as a captain, he failed to take it. It affected the team badly at a crucial point of the season and it affected him as a player too, his form dipping along with the team’s. Let someone else do it next season and let Gallas concentrate on playing football – something he is very good at, let’s not forget.
Tomas Rosicky talks about his injury. Apparently it’s getting slightly better but I know that there are still serious concerns over him and his ability to recover.
That’s just about it. I’m off to neck some more painkillers, stupid ears. I bet Vincent van Gogh never got earaches.