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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
There is a saying in England that it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. Apparently no-one told William Gallas. The Arsenal captain, in an interview that will do for his career what Little Bighorn did to General Custer's, accused his team-mates of lacking 'bravery', hinted at fights in the dressing room and revealed that one 25 year old player has been a disruptive force on and off the field. The reason behind this self-destructive outburst? The perception that it is his captaincy that is to blame for Arsenal's problems. Now there's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The irony is that, to outside observers at least, Gallas had been more of a leader this season than ever before. He was excellent against Manchester United and has weighed in with some important goals, particularly against FC Twente and Dynamo Kiev. Even if people did still blame him for Arsenal's failings, the best way to prove them wrong would have been to keep quiet and let his defending defend him. Now his career at Arsenal hangs in the balance and he has no-one to blame but himself.

And yet, there can't be many among us who didn't see this coming. Last February at St Andrews, Gallas flipped out like a toddler when a late penalty enabled Birmingham to draw level. Where your average captain, say John Terry or Steven Gerrard, might have lifted the players for one last attack, Gallas stormed off the pitch, kicked an advertising hoarding to pieces, screamed at the heavens and then plonked himself down in the centre-circle to cry his eyes out. What kind of a man does that?

The same kind of man who breaks the omerta of the dressing room to save his own skin. There is a general rule in football that what goes on behind that closed door stays behind that closed door. Gallas has broken the code and he's done it in such a childish way that he'll never be trusted by a team-mate again. To give away the age of the 'trouble-maker' was pathetic. There are three players who fit the bill on Arsenal's books. Emmanuel Eboue, the cheating bit-part midfielder, Bakary Sagna, the model professional and Robin van Persie, the Dutch enfant terrible with a reputation for causing trouble at every club he's played for. Gallas may as well have stuck Van Persie's name up on a billboard outside the stadium.

His accusations that his team-mates lack bravery are laughable given that these are witterings of a man desperate to save his own skin. If you want to see bravery, take a look at Terry stepping up to take a bullet for Scott Carson in midweek. That's the behaviour of a captain. Captains look after the younger players and guide them along, they don't run to the newspapers to blame them for the team's failings.

Wenger must do now what he should have done last season. He must strip Gallas of the captaincy that is apparently such a burden to him and he should transfer list him immediately. The French defender is a cancer at the heart of the club, posioning the atmosphere and crushing the confidence of a golden generation of talent. Wenger was wrong to give him the armband and he was wrong not to take it away again in February. He cannot afford to be wrong for a third time. Gallas must go.


"Arsene Wenger is as wise a man as you will find in football, but it is now apparent that his decision to award the captaincy to the French defender was a hideous error of judgement. Captains do not run away when last minute penalties are awarded against their team. They do not react to goals by kicking advertising hoardings to pieces and they certainly do not burst into tears on the final whistle...If your six year old son exploded like that in a park game, you’d be disappointed in him. For a professional athlete to behave so appallingly is beyond contempt. " - February 25, 2008