William Gallas has said that he believes that Arsenal were wrong to make him the scapegoat and his performances in the Premier League since leaving Arsenal – have proved that they should have kept him. Gallas fell out of favour at Arsenal in November 2008, when he was stripped of the captaincy and fined two weeks wages for publically criticizing his fellow French international teammate Samir Nasri and other Arsenal players. Gallas says that when he was at Arsenal he had a message to share as captain. Gallas said “As the captain at Arsenal I wanted to give them a message, but they didn’t get it. I may have been clumsy with the words I used, but the substance of the message was right.”
Gallas went on to say “I signed for Arsenal from Chelsea where I won titles and wanted to share my experience because I thought we were missing commitment in our work. But unfortunately my message was misunderstood and I am responsible for that.”
Gallas also said “the coach thought I was finished but I have proved him wrong. I had the opportunity to go to Qatar but the Premier League is so stimulating and I wanted to show that I could still compete at the highest level and Tottenham have given me that opportunity.”
It would be difficult to reach any kind of conclusion that would suggest if Gallas was the missing ingredient this season for Arsenal. There is no doubt that Arsenal was missing certain qualities but was Gallas really it? Arsene Wenger does have an entirely different philosophy to say Sir Alex Ferguson when to comes to players and at what stage they have no use. In general Arsenal prefer to operate a young squad and usually sell players before they reach 30 – but of course there are exceptions to this rule. Manchester United on the other hand feels players still have their uses over 30 and this is shown by the use of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville although the latter two have since retired.
It’s hard to argue with the record that Sir Alex Ferguson has but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Arsene Wenger was wrong to get rid of Gallas. Plenty of people have their ideas about what has gone wrong at Arsenal this season. My personal feeling is that having Gallas around the place would not have made a lot of difference – but I still think the Frenchman has some sort of a point.
What Arsenal do in the summer transfer market isn’t so much about the amount of money they spend or even the quality of players they recruit. After all despite the fact that Stan Kroenke has provided fresh money for Arsene Wenger to play with, the reality is Wenger will want to stick to his transfer policies. So with that in mind I would be surprised if Arsenal started splashing money around left, right and centre. However, there are two key areas to look at and one of those areas seems to be leadership and the other seems to be central defence quality.
Now, many Arsenal fans would point to Thomas Vermaelen and there is little doubt the Belgium international is a quality player and as captain of his national team may be the answer to the leadership problem – especially if current captain Cesc Fabregas moves on. But let’s remember that Vermaelen spent a lot of last season out injured and even if he could stay fit – he needs a quality partner.
So there are certainly problems that Arsenal needs to address in the summer, but do you think that Gallas has a point? Was he really missed last season?