Farewell, Gael Clichy
And so, the Invincibles are completely and utterly gone.
Gael Clichy has left the club after eight years of service and joined Manchester City. If you wish to watch his first interview at his new club, you can have a look at their website. We can only speculate as to the fee, but most suggest it’s in the region of £7 million, and for a player of his quality, that really is a steal. He may have had his bad moments, but without doubt, he is a top quality player. He makes mistakes, but all players do. He got barely any support in defence – Arshavin and Nasri were never interested in defending, and while Alex Song gave Bacary Sagna added protection on the right, Jack Wilshere was a little less defensively disciplined, leaving Clichy exposed at times.
I’ll miss him, he was a top servant, and he never gave up. What I’ll remember most about him are his lung-busting runs down the left, and the superb interceptions when he nipped in past the opposition player to steal the player. I remember against Barcelona, in the first leg of the recent tie, Clichy was facing up to Pedro, and somebody in front of me yelled “Don’t dive in!”, but Clichy did, and still won the ball. It was also him that set up van Persie’s goal to put us on our way to the victory in that leg.
Many still blame Clichy for our collapse against Birmingham in 2007/08. The penalty was an absolutely perfect tackle, he toed the ball away from Parnaby (yes, I remember who it was, I still hold a grudge) and was nowhere near touching the player, yet he went down, and the referee pointed to the spot, for whatever reason. That was not Clichy’s fault – if the referee had not made the wrong decision, we would have been praising Clichy for making a crucial tackle.
It’s important to note that he’s only 25. He seemed to struggle mentally after the Birmingham game, and never fully recovered his form, although that may have been the formation change. He’s still nowhere near his peak, that will come in three years or so. I’m of the belief that he’ll thrive at City – they defend as a team, and maintain defensive discipline, unlike us. We could take a leaf out of their book in that respect.
He worked his socks off all over the pitch, covering every inch of grass. I for one, am sad to see him go, and I pray that we bring in a decent replacement. There must be someone Wenger could pluck from France or Italy like he did with Sagna? Matt Statto recently suggested Pablo Armero from Udinese, and I think we could do far worse than to have a look at him. I certainly don’t think Gibbs is the answer, not yet anyway – positionally he was awful last season, and cost us quite a bit with his lackadaisical play. Many times you’d find him in the left midfield position, having given the ball away, and struggling to get back. He’s far too indisciplined to be a starter for us yet.
Armand Traore and Pedro Botelho are certainly not the answer either – Traore was average at Juventus, nothing more, while Pedro Botelho is a Gareth Bale-type player; an adventurous left-sided player who can play in defence or midfield, but is far more suited to playing in midfield.
So goodbye, Gael Clichy. Some may not have appreciated you, but in years to come, I’m sure they’ll realise you were a pretty good player.
Oh, and score loads of own goals.