Seeing The Silvestre Deal For What It Is

By on August 21, 2008
From devil to angel in one fail swoop of his pen??

From devil to angel in one fell swoop of his pen?

So, Arsene has signed 31 year old French international and long-time United back, Mikael Silvestre.  Now, there has been a lot of venom spewed on Arsenal blogs and forums about this signing but I think there are two things we need to keep in mind.

The first is: Whether or not Silvestre came from Manchester United or Manchester City, it is a very smart signing by Wenger which fills a spot many Gooners believed needed filling but did not believe that Arsene would make.  Silvestre brings added depth and title-winning experience to our defense.  He provides cover for Clichy which enabled Arsene to send the young Armand Traore off to Portsmouth in a long-rumoured loan deal to gain more experience.  Though his main position with United was at left-back, his favoured position from his days at Rennes was as a centre back… another position you can never have enough cover for.

Second, some supporters seem to think that the Boss has made the Silvestre signing instead of signing a defensive midfielder.  Now, to be fair, alot of these kinds of statements were made before the Boss came out today and said he is still in the market for a midfield foil for Cesc Fabregas.  Obviously, the defensive midfield position is extremely important to Arsenal and most supporters don’t feel we can raise an honest title challenge without bringing someone in.  But, it should have been easy to see that a less than £1m defensive cover signing would surely not take the place of signing another midfielder.  However, the anti-Wenger contingent among Arsenal supporters keep beating the chests even as he shows them that he’s not REALLY “too busy to sign new players.”

It should also be kept in mind, regarding the anti-Silvestre lobby, that these are the same people who will be more than glad he’s on the bench should, god forbid, Clichy sustain an injury of any length.  It’s far too short-sighted to complain about signing a player just because he played for one of our rivals.  A classic case in hand is Pat Jennings after his move from Spurs to Arsenal just prior to the 1977/78 campaign.  Jennings went on to man the Arsenal nets for almost a decade and gave us the kind of keeper we hadn’t had since Bob Wilson retired 3 years earlier.

Just a few biographical notes, which I feel obliged to spit out despite every other blog and news site repeating the same info… Silvestre began his career with Rennes before being transferred to InterMilan.  His spell there lasted only one year, after which he was bought by Alex Ferguson for £3.5m.  In 9 years at Old Trafford, Silvestre made over 300 appearances in all competitions and his honors include 4 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup winner’s medal, 1 Carling Cup medal, and a Champions League medal.  Following Patrice Evra’s move to United, Silvestre has found it hard to secure a place in the lineup but, much as he is expected to do at Arsenal, he showed leadership and gave depth to their bench.  He suffered a knee ligament injury last September which ruled him out for most of the season.  He has played only 3 competitive matches in the last 11 months including United’s 1-nil second leg home win against Roma in the Champions League Quarterfinals.

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