Thursday 14 December 2017

About time Clichy and Nasri showed will to win trophies

Aidan O'Hara

Aidan O'Hara

BEFORE Robbie Keane took it to extremes, the reason for a player moving from one club to another was because it was a dream come true. Last year, Wayne Rooney took a different tack by declaring that a club who are among the richest in the world and had won three Premier Leagues and a Champions League in the previous four years didn't match his ambition.

Now, for those moving to Manchester City, there is only one word on their lips as they sign contracts that double or treble their previous earnings: trophies.

In the same way that it should be reasonable to assume that all players have a big heart, a big engine or any of those other unquantifiable qualities that are so sought after by people trying to bluff their way through a conversation, the desire to win trophies should be a given in any player.

"When you look at the investment made over the last three years, you can see that we have brought a lot of quality players, world-class players, who are not scared to compete for trophies," said Nasri in a seamless switching of 'we' from red to blue.

Gael Clichy took a similar line of justification when he declared his frustration at the last few barren years at Arsenal.

"It got to a point for me where I didn't want to just challenge for the titles only to be disappointed in the final weeks of the season. I wanted to play for a club that would win them," said the left-back as, like Nasri, he moved in the same direction as his bank balance -- north. Yet, had both shown the same desire in the final months of last season, there's a strong possibility that Arsenal's trophy cabinet might not look so bare. In Clichy's case, that can be stretched back even further.

The game against Birmingham in February 2008 is justifiably cited as the day when Arsene Wenger's vision for the future became blurred in a hail of reactions and recriminations. Yet for all the talk of Eduardo's horrendous injury, Emmanuel Adebayor's selfishness and William Gallas's childishness, it was Clichy who was most responsible for them turning three points into one when his error allowed James McFadden to equalise.


Anybody can make a mistake to give away a penalty in the last minute but such a brain freeze at a point when he should have been at his most focused spoke volumes about the player and, in less high-profile games since, Clichy was been prone to such lapses that cost Arsenal dearly.

While self-indulgent, Gallas's fury was understandable, although had he grabbed Clichy by the throat and pinned him against the dressing-room wall as other Arsenal captains would have done in the past, the story would have stayed in-house and Clichy, and those around him, might have got the message.

Like Clichy, Nasri seems to have completely forgotten that he was playing in the team that went from being in the hunt for four trophies last season to searching for excuses why they came up short.

It's true that nothing is won by January but, because of its ridiculous voting system, the Player of the Year award effectively is. As a result, both Gareth Bale and Nasri led the nominations but in the final few months of the season when their teams' goals for the season were slipping away, neither could step up.

When Nasri and Clichy speak of wanting to win trophies, what they really mean is that they want others to win them for them.

Otherwise, how could they have had such a negligible impact on their best chance last season when the might of Seb Larsson and Barry Ferguson helped Birmingham to a Carling Cup victory in a game when Arsenal's supposed superstars never showed up.

In the next seven league games Clichy played following the Carling Cup final defeat, Arsenal picked up eight points. Nasri's case is even more damning with one goal in 13 Premier League games as Arsenal came off the rails.

Just as it's unfair to lay the blame for Arsenal's demise only at the door of Wenger, it's unrealistic to hold Nasri and Clichy solely responsible for Arsenal's failure last season but, unless they acknowledge their part rather than blaming the club, they can expect to make the same mistakes again.

Last week, Nasri spoke of joining this generation's 'Galacticos' as though it was a positive, even though the original of the species took only one trophy in four years.

When they crashed out of the Champions League to Juventus in 2008, Real Madrid had the ridiculous scenario of starting a team with Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Raul and Ronaldo along with Thomas Gravesen and Raul Bravo.

The result was a concoction of the great and the reprobate whose egos allowed them to believe they were better than everyone else without ever feeling the need to prove it.

Yesterday gave both players some more justification for switching with a stunning victory for City at Tottenham added to Arsenal's dismal defeat at Old Trafford. But unless both show a different attitude this season, their flattering to deceive in August could end up as the same result in May.

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