Why Flamini-replacement is a false concept

I don’t keep a diary of each game I watch, so when thinking of past games I have to rely on memory – which can be notoriously false.

But having given that proviso, I am not sure that Flamini was as good as he is now made out to be.

Certainly his games before the 2007/8 season were ok, but I would never have said he was stunning, and I do remember conversations with friends in the summer of 2007 where we wondered if he was going to leave or not, and the answer generally was “I don’t really mind”.  When he was injured we never seemed to mind too much – or miss him too much.

Last season was different, I admit, but was he that good, that special, that important?

In one sense I’ll agree he was: he was the balance and support that Fabregas needed, and which allowed him to develop his game and during that process move forward to score more goals.  Beyond that, he ran about a lot (I think there is a stat to say he ran about more than anyone else last year) and he tackled hard.  All good stuff.

But, Cesc has now developed a stage further, and there is a greater sense of completeness both to his game, and to the team as a whole, in my opinion, which makes it look more like the earlier Wenger teams – the teams that for many years included Gilberto.

Gilberto was an utterly different player from Flamini, and one who, for part of his time at Highbury was not appreciated by all the crowd – despite the credentials of being a world cup winner and ultimately captain of Brazil.  Only when out for a year did we really see what we had been missing.

But the point I am drifting towards is that with Gilberto we won stuff, which we didn’t with Flamini.  Of course one player does not explain what we won and didn’t, but it does make the point that the various Wenger teams that have achieved greatness have not done so by being mirror images of each other.  We don’t replace Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and Vieira, because they are unique players, and when they go, a new approach is evolved around the new star players.  We build the team around the brilliance of Fabregas, and that brilliance includes his flexibility – which gives us flexibility in terms of who plays next to him, and how the pair of them then play.

So what I am saying is that we should not get fixated on the need for a Flamini II – we could have an utterly different system, as we did with Gilberto.   Fabregas / Denilson works, Fabregas / Song works, and I suspect Denilson / Song will work too.   (Incidentally if it does turn out that Denilson is a really excellent player, then this current extended run can only help him – and help the club for when Cesc can’t play.)

Vieira + Petit was not in any way the same as Vieira + Gilberto, but both worked, and that is what we have to remember.   Wenger is not a one-dimensional coach.
Wenger has a style, true, but it is not fixed.  Thus our thinking about what is needed and who is needed should not be fixed to saying “oh this is what we had last year, we had better have that again”.

Personally I think the current combination will work – although I will be fascinated to see how Bischoff fits into the system

Final thought: the story that Gaz “Gazza” Gascoigne has been found dead in a Newcastle hotel is just a rumour.   Everyone should have known that from the start: there are no hotels in Newcastle.

3 Replies to “Why Flamini-replacement is a false concept”

  1. Firstly, on the Gascoigne issue, I think it was really tasteless for someone to start that rumour. He was a great player and it’s sad to see how alcoholism and mental health problems have destroyed him.

    Secondly, I totally agree re Flamini. He was a hardworking, committed player, which a lot of fans seem to identify with, but his talents were limited for a team like Arsenal. I also think that as well as he played, it was the whole team that had raised their level, so the improvement was not just down to him.

    I also agree that there is more than one way to play and that the total, interchangeable midfield that Arsene seems to be going for, will be much harder for other teams to single out the playmaker and nullify his influence. It might mean that Cesc will no longer stand out in an obvious way, but his talent will still be there underpinning everything we do, while enabling him to develop into the complete midfielder Arsene believes he can be.

  2. A very clever tactical change has been made by Wenger this year that the press or pundits have not picked up on (surprise, surprise). Denilson is playing a lot deeper then Cesc. It is he that is picking up the ball from the defenders not Cesc. I think Arsene wants Cesc to join to attack later and find the killer ball but in the last third not inside our half or on half way. I think Arsene recognised that opponents thought by stopping Cesc you stop Arsenal not so this year both midfielders are capable of acting as playmakers and alternating as needed. very clever Arsene. this negates the needs of the Flaminis as we tend to have the ball more and use our team work ethic to defend.

  3. excellent point. I cant agree with the winning and not winning part, because the team that won with gilberto also had a pires,henry, vieira and bergkamp, but I do agree with the point you made with the central midfield partnerships “working”. part of your point is supported by the fact that we’ve conceded only 3 goals this term however, we’ve only played “ok” teams at best.

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