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Different French connections

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
edited January 2023 in General Chat
Different French connections

By Andrew Yeoh, Malaysia



Thu, 9 May, - In the wake of Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at Old Trafford which consequently handed the Premiership title to the team who has been regarded for many years as second best in Britain, one has to ponder as to why the French players from the same national squad can have so contrasting effects on the top two teams in Britain.


If we were to first single out the French contingent of Arsenal, we will have Robert Pires, the French left wing wizard whom everyone agrees deserves the FA Barclaycard Premiership 2002 Player of the Year accolade. Even the neutrals are now running out of superlatives to describe this French left winger who suddenly emerged as one of the top world class midfielders after World Cup 98 and Euro 2000, more so after the latter. Next on the list of Arsenal’s flying Frenchmen would be Thierry Henry, the complete striker whom many regard as the fastest striker in the world. It is of no mere coincidence that a striker of his pace scores goals for fun, netting an average of 20 goals every season. Some foolish anti-Arsenal supporters may say that it is the smaller pitch size of Highbury that makes Henry look fast, but sadly they forget that he is just as fast on other big pitches like Old Trafford and St. James’ Park. Then who could forget the contribution of the French midfield anchorman Patrick Vieira? He is, without a shadow of a doubt, to Arsenal what Roy Keane is to Manchester United. He may not possess the same leadership qualities of Roy Keane but he is just as good in the other aspects of his role. One must not forget that this is the player whom Real Madrid, arguably the best club in the world, has been trying to lure for the past few years. Many may say that the Madrid club buys the way they do only because they are financially strong. But when a club goes all the way to get Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane, it does not take a genius to deduce that they only get the best in the business. Having mentioned the three key Frenchmen of Arsenal, let’s not forget another Frenchman who often plays second fiddle to his higher-rated countrymen. He is none other than Sylvain Wiltord, and if any has already forgotten, he scored the goal that was the basis and catalyst of Arsenal’s championship celebration at Old Trafford last night. Yes he may not be as prolific as Henry but many may be oblivious to the fact that he was the top scorer of the French League a few years ago.


Then of course, the "flying-without-wings" Frenchmen of Manchester United. They have hogged the limelight, very much this season, for often the wrong reasons. Even non-football fans would agree that names like Fabien Barthez, Mikael Silvestre and Laurent Blanc are by no means obscure to them. Let’s start the dissection of the United French contingent by beginning with the player whom might have a better career had he joined the traveling French circus. Many would concur that Fabien Barthez was solely responsible for many of United’s unnecessary defeats this season, both home and away, even though there is still much truth in Roy Keane’s comments that many other players have let the club and themselves down. They say that all good goalkeepers are eccentric, Peter Schmeichel, Jose Luis Chilavert, just to name a few. However that eccentricity is often shown in areas other than their goalkeeping duty. The goalkeepers mentioned do get their primary job, which is to concede as few goals as possible, done at the end of the day. This is unfortunately not the case as far as Barthez is concerned. People might now insist that Brazil’s Roberto Carlos is one of the best free-kick takers in the business but some might not realise that Barthez’s complacency had some part to play in Carlos’s sudden rise to fame about six or seven years ago. The goalkeeper in goal, when Carlos’s first tried his unique way of executing free kicks, was none other than the mistake-prone-shining-bald-headed Barthez. Then there is the other bald head- Mikael Silvestre. After struggling to find a place in the hearts of the United fans during his unsettled first season, his performance in his second season eventually allowed him to beat Dennis Irwin to the left back position in the starting line-up. However, all his major mistakes in pivotal matches, especially this season, has more or less tarnished his status in the supporters’ hearts, that is if they ever did embrace him into their hearts. If Wiltord’s goal in last night’s match is to be deemed as one of the highs of his career he will never forget, then it has to be said that Silvestre’s mistake of giving away the ball, which led to the goal, will be one of the lows of his career he will try to forget. Pace, something of which is found abundantly in Henry, however something of which Laurent Blanc would give his right hand to have some. When Sir Alex Ferguson controversially sold Jaap Stam to Lazio as a result of Stam’s contentious remarks in his autobiography, many knew in their hearts, despite refusing to admit it, that Stam’s replacement Laurent Blanc would not be able to fill the void left behind in the centre of the defence. Credit where credit is due, Laurent Blanc is one of the best readers of the game as far as his defensive duties are concerned. However his lack of pace, most likely a result of his age, epitomises the saying "the mind is willing but the body is weak". Even though Henry missed last night’s match at Old Trafford because of injury, a Henry-Blanc match-up would reminisce a certain rabbit-tortoise children’s story.


So why is it that the same world-conquering, Europe-dominating group of players who play for France under Roger Lemerre can have so different effects when they play for their respective clubs? Could it be the nationality of the respective club managers? Does a French player’s performance vary should he play for a Scottish manager, or a French one for that matter? Or could it all just boil down to the individual club’s regime and training system that are able to bring out the best or worst in the players? Surely it cannot be because London (i.e. Arsenal) is nearer to France than Manchester is, or can it?


Food for thought indeed. E-mail all your individual notions regarding the matter above to ayst@yahoo.com . PLEASE NOTIFY ME IF THIS ARTICLE IS PUBLISHED.
Post edited by JustV on

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm not really sure what the point is your making <IMG SRC="confused.gif" border="0" ALT="icon"> France are the best side in the world, therefore obviously they have a wealth of talented players and such players are clearly going to enrich any club side.

    You forget the success trezuguet and thuram have brought to Italian champions Juventus <IMG SRC="wink.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">

    The best clubs can afford the best players <IMG SRC="smile.gif" border="0" ALT="icon"> Simple really.
    Many may say that the Madrid club buys the way they do only because they are financially strong. But when a club goes all the way to get Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane, it does not take a genius to deduce that they only get the best in the business.

    Yes but to get the best in the buisness you have to be financially strong, stupid point really.

    I also find it a bit shallow to start announcing how Arsenal have got it right and Man U wrong the day after Arsenal win the chamionship, well, no shit sherlock.
    So why is it that the same world-conquering, Europe-dominating group of players who play for France under Roger Lemerre can have so different effects when they play for their respective clubs? Could it be the nationality of the respective club managers? Does a French player’s performance vary should he play for a Scottish manager, or a French one for that matter? Or could it all just boil down to the individual club’s regime and training system that are able to bring out the best or worst in the players?

    Or maybe, just maybe, some individuals in that French squad are better than others ? Or is that a ridiculous suggestion ?
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