Gallas – The Return of the Leader
William Gallas has been criticised by many Arsenal fans and by the media for his “attitude.” Arsenal may not have been Gallas’ first choice when he left Chelsea but in the two and half years at Arsenal, he has proven to be a great player and was a great captain.
Gallas joined Arsenal whilst we were in transition, many thought he would leave after the first season, but following Henry’s departure, he was appointed captain. This did not go down well with the media who then made it a personal vendetta against Gallas. Everything he did was scrutinised and criticised, despite the fact that he often scored late and vital goals for us. His pre-match ritual when he gathered the players together and gave them a pep talk was deemed a charade, yet it is the same media clowns who were calling for a “true leader” to emerge and lead Arsenal. Gallas organised bonding sessions for the team, but this was overlooked. Then came the fateful game, Birmingham v Arsenal. Arsenal were leading and then with minutes to go Clichy gave away a penalty, Gallas showed his emotions and frustrations, Gallas did not hide behind any excuse, he was angry, he knew we had blown two points, points that later became vital in our quest for the title. This is what the media wanted and they went to town on it. The criticism was unfair, it was a stupid mistake by one our young guns and Gallas is a professional, a winner, and he knew what it meant.
This season Gallas retained the captaincy, again much to the annoyance of a small group of fans and the media as a whole. Gallas was a true captain, popping up to score vital goals, again, nurturing Djourou and Toure. Then Gallas gave an interview and blew the lid on the petulance of youth at Arsenal, he did not name players, but it was enough to lead him to lose the captaincy, the media loved it! It transpires that what he said has been supported by some of the other players and by many fans.
Gallas was upset by the loss of the captaincy and it took him a while to recover both his self-esteem and his form. In recent matches, he has once more been the rock of the defence. Against Spurs, he covered himself in glory, keeping the Spurs strikers quiet and then covering for Clichy who was at sixes and sevens against Lennon. Gallas was able to read the game and helped tremendously in ensuring we got a point from the game.
Gallas will always put in 100%, if hew has a weakness it is his lack of speed, this is where Djourou playing alongside him works well, they complement each other. When the chips are down you are guaranteed that Gallas will be looking to score a vital goal.
Despite having lost the captain’s armband, many players still look to him for leadership. It says a lot when your team-mates still consider you as the captain.
Gallas may well leave this summer; if he does we will need a monster of player to replace him. Arsenal fans need to get behind Gallas as he will keep the defence together for this vital part of the season.