William Gallas delivered a dagger through the hearts of Arsenal fans this week with his announcement of infighting on the field and in the dressing room. Some would say his actions show he cares and that he’s passionate and at least illustrates a desire to succeed and win. However, most would say he’s behaved liked a petulant child as opposed to a leader of men. The problem is, Gallas didn’t have the men to lead in the first place, he had boys. We all know the major issue at Arsenal is leadership. So if we know it, why can’t Arsene Wenger see it?
The man has been a legend at Arsenal over the last 10 years. He got everyone to buy into his philosophy of football and the team reaped the rewards with much success. The reason for that success though was the ability to blend English players with foreign players. Adams, Bould, Bergkamp, Keown, Viera and many other quality guys came together and achieved. When he introduced youth to his team, the veterans were able to steer and guide them in the right direction. The problem however was the English and veteran players had gone and they were never replaced.
In the 90′s Sir Alex Ferguson introduced a young group of Manchester United players to the Premier League and everyone questioned if they could challenge for the title. The media were all over it. But we all know what happened next don’t we? That same team dominated English football for years. They succeeded with a blend of experience, youth, English players and foreign players too. Beckham, Neville, Scholes and Giggs and the support of Keane, Schmeichel, Bruce and Cantona. The balance of the team was perfect and Arsenal can certainly learn from what Sir Alex Ferguson did.
This is a very young Arsenal team and Gallas has been burning on their lack of maturity for a while now. These thoughts and opinions he’s expressed didn’t come out of nowhere. Much of what he’s said this week is probably true. But there are fights at every club. Nobody is perfect and to announce family secrets to the world’s media was probably the worse thing he could have done. He makes some worrying claims for the fans. What do we make of this player Gallas claims nobody likes? Who is the player throwing insults at his own team during the game? And why would Gallas go public now?
Quite simply, he wants a transfer to another team in January. You don’t cause all this drama without having an ulterior motive. Whether he’s right or wrong, what he did was totally inappropriate for a professional sportsman, especially as captain of one of the world’s biggest and best football teams. Arsenal fans say au revoir Gallas. Get lost to you and your own goals and don’t let the door hit you on the way out…
This week’s legend is French genius Eric Cantona. Before Arsenal played beautiful football, there was King Eric spreading the ball about the pitch as smooth as nutella on a slice of toast. He mesmerized the Old Trafford faithful with his magical feet and unbelievable passion. He made goals, he scored goals, and even created a litte bother along the way.
Long before Zinedine Zidane’s infamous head butt in the World Cup Final, Cantona was doing a little Kung Fu fighting with an abusine Crystal Palace fan. The fan yelled profanities about his mother and before he could yell some more, Cantona took his magical feet to the fan Bruce Lee style. After his moment of madness, Cantona was banned from the game he loves for a good few months. And it wasn’t just Manchester United fans that missed him. Everyone loved to watch the King.
Just who is the greatest player to have served in the Premier League? Zola? Bergkamp? Henry? Giggs? They are all world class players, but did Eric Cantona have that little extra that made him more special? I think he went beyond a footballer and entertainer. Cantona possessed the torture and angst of a great artist. We loved the beast that lived within his footballing soul. He painted beautiful pictures for us with his feet and we couldn’t get enough of him. He powered the Theater of Dreams. Long live the King…