So long Ade, and thanks for all the fish...

Discussion in 'Personal Articles' started by asajoseph, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. asajoseph

    asajoseph New Member Elite

    Benjamin Franklin once said:

    "There are two certainties in life: Death, and Taxes."

    These days, Arsenal fans must feel like adding a third item to that list - a summer transfer saga involving one of our star players. But mercifully, this time around, the build-up of rumours, gossip, mysterious interviews and general tabloid nonsense has been cleared away nice and early, as Emmanuel Adebayor's move to Manchester City was signed, sealed and delivered on the same day that Arsenal drew their opening pre-season warm-up against Barnet.

    So much has been written about Adebayor's time at Arsenal over the last few days that a full review of his three and a half years with us seems somewhat redundant, but it nevertheless remains striking that he was a player who seems to have divided opinion like no other.

    It is rare for an established player to be so divisive. We debate the merits and talents of the many prospective youngsters we have at the club, and opinions will always vary, all the more so when there's less evidence to go on. But has a striker ever scored 30 goals in a season, and yet still attracted the level of criticism that Ade did in the following 12 months?

    His flirtations with AC Milan cannot have helped over the summer, no doubt, and Ade certainly became a scapegoat for what was a painful summer, with several key players leaving the club, and Arsène Wenger failing to bring in suitable replacements. It's hard now to go back and filter through all the media stories to deduce just how close Ade ever got to moving to Milan, but it seems likely that discussions happened, and had an agreement been reached between the clubs, a move wouldn't have been held up too long by Ade pondering whether or not he'd fit into the social set of the Milanese fashionistas.

    I have to say, it warms my heart a bit that in an age where a player's loyalty can be measured by the size of their salary, fans still feel that they've been slighted when their own passion and commitment is obviously unmatched by their heroes. I don't mean that I condone the boos and jeers that Ade received, but I fully believe that Adebayor started the season needing to not just repay the sizeable contract he'd been awarded, but also make good the bond between himself and the fans that he had worked so hard to create the season before.

    Other pundits have already had much to say about Ade's perceived levels of effort last season, particularly in big matches, with perhaps his performance against Manchester United being a carbuncle upon the whole campaign. But I cannot help but feel that Ade has had a steeper hill to climb than most when seeking to find space for himself in the hearts of some fans, one that is not fully explained by reports of his disloyalty in the media.

    One of the main causes of the disdain with which he was treated must surely come from his style of play, for Adebayor has never been the most attractive of footballers. At Arsenal, we're used to the silky skills of the Henrys, the Bergkamps and the Pires's of the world, yet suddenly we had on our hands a striker who, whilst effective, seemed to be the blunt battering ram, compared to the Gallic rapier of his predecessors. Even at his best, the tall Togolese appeared clumsy, lacking in the grace that many fans had become used to admiring, physiologically almost pre-destined to be looked down upon. When talking to some, it's as if an arcane formula for the 'perfect footballer', totally subjective of course, takes all precedence over results on the pitch.

    It is amongst these fans that Ade never really stood a chance. 30 goals a season was not enough to hide the fact that he didn't have the flair, or innate ability that many would have liked, and perhaps for them, the ends would never justify the means. I can understand, of course, the frustration with the inconsistent finishing or the prodigious ability to be caught offside, but I do feel that Emmanuel Adebayor was sold short by many Arsenal fans.

    For me, the virtue at the heart of every top team is consistency. The Premiership is filled with players capable of incredible feats once or twice a season, but it is those who can deliver the results game after game that are truly valuable, and in 2007/08, Arsenal had on their hands a man who could provide this. Yes, he was frustrating in possession, yes, he had a tendency to be caught offside, yes, he missed some good chances. But his size, strength, pace and running meant that he was a man who could put himself into positions to score goals, who defenders could not mark, who could beat a man in many different ways, and the results were the cornerstone on which we built our title challenge.

    So the man himself may have gone, and we'll all get a kick of cursing his name when he returns to the Emirates (and no doubt scores a goal or two against us!), but I'm a great believer in focussing on your own game rather than worrying about the opposition, so I wonder how our forward line moves on from here.

    To me, it seems we can get by without buying a direct Adebayor replacement. The problems in our squad are obvious, and personally, I believe that whether or not Wenger gets around to sorting out our central midfield issues (he's already a season overdue on this, but that's another story) will have far more baring on our season than replacing Emmanuel Adebayor. Robin Van Persie is coming off a strong year, and more importantly he stayed relatively healthy. Eduardo is coming back from injury, and if he even halfway lives up to the enormous mythology that seems to have built up around him, he will also play a big role for us next season. Andrey Arshavin, our little Messiah, looks just as capable of playing centrally as he does on the left flank, whilst a handful of youngsters such as Carlos Vela, Theo Walcott and Jay Simpson will be looking to make a name for themselves. For me though, most interesting option is Nicklas Bendtner, a man who like Adebayor attracted a huge amount of (incredibly unfair) vocal criticism, bore it on broad shoulders, and finished with a respectable tally of 15 goals. He improved markedly from first half to second, and on top of being possibly the best header of the ball in the league, his superb movement in the final third, and an improving ground-game that will put him in good stead. Most importantly, though, is that he seems to share Adebayor's ability to use his physique, speed, but also technique to get himself into goalscoring positions.

    For me, the big worry is whether or not we're going to be able to put the ball in the back of the net consistently enough next season to challenge. Almost all of our players have question marks over them, but that is not to say none of them can step up and shoulder the burden. Of course, there will be a temptation to look outside of the club for replacements, and the usual suspects (Obafemi Martins, Klass Jan Huntelaar) have been linked, as well as a few new faces (Marouane Chamakh, Demba Ba), but I'm not going to spend a lifetime assessing players we may never sign. Generally speaking, I'm more interested in players who have a consistent track record of sticking the ball in the back of the net, as well as a certain amount of footballing ability and intelligence to go with it, and I have to say, not many of the names we've been closely linked with inspire me with much confidence. Nor, for that matter, does Wenger's most recent comment on what he might be thinking of doing with the undisclosed fee that must be burning a big hole in his pocket. But that has as much to do with the confidence I have in the players we already have as anything else, and a conviction that our biggest worries lie elsewhere.

    So as for Adebayor, well, it's hard to feel sorry for a man who's just jumped ship for £130k+ per week, and as much as I've lost respect for him given the way he's comported himself over the last 12 months, I also wonder if he was never really a face that fitted at Arsenal, a man who was never quite destined to make it here.

    What can Manchester City expect? Well, you'd have to say that an undisclosed fee (£25m) is good business for a player who's had problems at every team he's played for, be it Monaco, Togo or Arsenal. You also have to wonder how he'll deal with the competition, being one of 9 strikers. I think, perhaps, his biggest problem might be getting the kind of service that he made so much of whilst he was at Arsenal, but if he can re-discover his form and his work-rate, there's no doubt he'll be a formidable player for them.

    So long Ade, thanks for the memories. It's been (sort of) fun, and if nothing else, you've sure given us a lot to talk about.
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Hi Asa

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    Just need some basic info like fav players, fav Arsenal moment, worst Arsenal moment, a link to your personal page or your Twitter / Facebook info.

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