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November 21, 2008

Is it 'cause he is French?

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So it looks like William Gallas has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after publicly questioning the courage of his teammates.

My main problem with this is… wouldn’t Roy Keane have got away with it?

Keane, in fact, criticised several of his team-mates shortly before quitting Manchester United in 2005 – but it was a combination of that and other factors that led him to leave a few weeks later.

Keane also criticised the ‘prawn sandwich’ brigade, and made similar criticisms of his Ireland team-mates. Admittedly, that one got him shown the door.

And so I wasn’t surprised to see Keane stand up for Gallas.

But the Gallas affair just feels different. I think it comes down to a few factors:

  1. He’s French. Roy Keane’s outbursts could, to a limited extent, be put down to his slightly more charming Celtic manner and longstanding ‘cheekyness’. Gallas doesn’t have that luxury.
  2. Gallas hasn’t been at Arsenal for that long – even Arsenal supporters probably thought giving him the captaincy was a bit premature.
  3. Attitude – Gallas has been an abysmal captain in the last twelve months on the pitch. He’s shown babyish tendencies that David Beckham even at his worst moments would have been embarrassed by.

(It’s to football’s credit that ‘race’ isn’t a credible reason nowadays.)

So I’m torn. Part of me thinks Gallas’s outburst should have been taken more lightly. The other part thinks he’s had this coming for a while.

December 11, 2006

A question of sport

Question. Does anyone actually like Ashley Cole? Please identify yourself in the comments. No, not you Cheryl.

Let this extract from his recent book help you:

“Ash! Are you listening?” said a virtually hyperventilating Jonathan [his agent]. “I’m here in the office and David Dein [Arsenal Vice-Chairman] is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?” When I heard Jonathan (Barnett) repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. “He is taking the piss, Jonathan!” I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. I suppose it all started to fall apart for me from then on. I’d trusted Mr Dein to push the deal through.

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