Gervinho’s Arsenal career started brightly and with as much hope as could be forced from a Ligue 1 player who arrived in the Premier League off the back of a £10million transfer. The Ivorian hit goals in pre-season, added his first league strike in the loss to Blackburn, and looked to be fairly decent, middle of the road business for the club.
And then what was expected eventually hit. Gervinho, signed as the cheaper alternative to Eden Hazard from Lille, looked nothing of a good enough replacement for Samir Nasri, whose departure left a void on the left flank of the Arsenal attack. Gervinho may be a player who comes to life with the confidence of his manager and those around him, but some accountability needs to be taken from a professional footballer who is far from a teenager.
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Gervinho has criticised Arsene Wenger, unfairly, for not offering him enough playing time and in turn the confidence to have a productive career at Arsenal. Little, obviously, has been said of the player’s own inability to turn his game around when the feeling from all quarters was that he clearly wasn’t up to the task.
This past season, when Arsenal were clearly light of centre-forwards, Wenger placed enough faith in Gervinho to use him as something of a false 9 through the middle. It was thought that the Ivorian’s movement and apparent intelligence in the final third would be a better option over Olivier Giroud. Wenger was rewarded, as Gervinho scored in important Champions League and Premier League games against Montpellier, Olympiacos and Chelsea. Perhaps that difficult first season was the necessary period of adaption that so many players need when arriving in England.
The ultimate low for Gervinho was certainly the miss against Bradford in the League Cup, though to call it a miss is a little inaccurate. The forward hesitated and failed to capitalise on an open goal against a side who Arsenal should have turned over with ease. Gervinho became a symbol for all that was wrong with the club: weak and lacking in personal drive. Is it a coincidence that Gervinho’s departure, among others, has preceded the talk of the positive atmosphere and camaraderie at Arsenal?
For Gervinho, the frustration is unwarranted. He received as many opportunities as past failed projects such as Denilson and to an extent Nicklas Bendtner, while even Carlos Vela, a far superior talent, wasn’t offered the number of chances the winger had. But there comes a time when a manager has to put aside the small projects and the feelings of his underperforming players and act to achieve results. Gervinho may have scored at the tail end of last season against Swansea, but he was far from an important figure in helping to turn around Arsenal’s season and land fourth place.
The club have done extremely well to move him on and receive a fee that isn’t too far from what they paid two summers ago. Gervinho may find the restart to his career he’s apparently looking for under former Lille manager Rudi Garcia, but will Roma and its faithful be so understanding if he fails to perform in the same way he did in north London?
If that should happen, it will take any weight away from the criticisms of Wenger and his man management. If that happens, it will place the blame squarely at the door of the player, where, clearly, it has been all along.
Does Gervinho have a right to criticise Arsene Wenger for his failings in England?
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