As much as it is becoming more and more fashionable for Arsenal supporters to eulogise over how wonderful the Manu squad system is; I would like to remind them that they almost lost the league recently because of their lack of defensive depth. When both Ferdinand and Vidic were injured they went scratching around the barrel and came up with Evans and Gibson, ever heard of them? No.
The idea that they wouldn’t have sold Silvestre if he was any good is a catchy little sound bite but it is lazy and totally inaccurate. I can only assume that the people who trot this out are unaware that it suggests a greater level of nous on the part on the mancs. Now some Arsenal supporters, and I use the term loosely, may be comfortable with that; but to me, this has the same effect as a cats claws being dragged down a black-board.
Here is what I suggest happened. After many years of loyal service the mancs explained to Silvestre at the beginning of the season that his chances of playing were limited and so out of respect they let him leave on a free transfer in order that he could get the best wage deal possibly for himself: very fair in my opinion.
Lots of Arsenal supporters were crying out at the beginning of the season that we need to buy experience; there are few more experienced than Silvestre; and yet, he arrived to a chorus of complaints.
Against Liverpool, he was up against the best centre forward in the world, we know this, of course, because of how many Arsenal supporters sing his praises at any available opportunity. Sylvestre had a torrid time. But it is worth remembering that not so long ago the dippers scored four goals against the chavs and they had Alex playing.
Calls for new defenders are the order of the day but I ask myself do these people actually think of the practicalities of signing more defenders. Take Brede Hangeland of Fulham, a very popular name on the wish list; do you really think he would be interested in coming to a club where he may well be expected to sit on the bench for most of the season?
There was an interesting conversation on the site the other day: someone was stressing the importance of building up defensive partnerships: the names of Ferdinand and Vidic came up; ours would naturally be Gallas and Toure. The point was that partnerships develop over time, they have to be nurtured and persevered with in order to get the best out of them; this is not a radical idea. I suspect that most managers aim to achieve a stable partnership; equally, I suspect that most players understand that that is what a manager will be aiming for. So it is reasonable to guess that Toure and Gallas knew at the beginning of the season that they were going to be the main pairing that Wenger was going to prioritise throughout the season.
So if Hangeland were signed and by some good fortune Gallas and Toure didn’t get injured he could find himself wasting his career away on the bench. Ahhh, I hear you say, but there are always injuries. This is true and if there were then Djourou, who is a far better long term prospect than Hangeland any way, would play.
So now Hangeland has got to sit on the bench and wait for Gallas, Toure and Djourou to get injured before he gets a game and that could easily mean that he sits there twiddling his thumbs all season long. What self respecting footballer wants to do that unless he is 17 and is prepared to wait for his chance. In short, unless Hangeland was going to replace Gallas or Toure (in a Sol Campbell way) then there is no way, if he has a modicum of self respect, would want to come to Arsenal……..I would suggest that we are fortunate to have Silvestre.
This post is by London!