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The Forgotten Man

The Forgotten Man

Last season Mathieu Flamini was called upon and in no uncertain terms, the boy stepped up.

Playing out of position in one of the most physical and demanding leagues, helping to keep clean sheet after clean sheet in one of the toughest cup competitions on the planet. I challenge anyone to say that this guy was found wanting.

Indeed most of us were more than happy for the young Frenchman to continue at left back while the storm clouds began to surround the now disgraced Ashley Cole. His performances in our defence were characterised by a steely determination not seen since William Wallace sacked York. His attitude was spot on, he did not grumble nor at any stage give less than his absolute all. In keeping with the time honoured phrase, he left it all out on the pitch.

So what of this gutsy and more importantly loyal warrior? How have his herculian efforts been rewarded? Answer, anonymity. It is as if he was washed from the very face of the earth. Okay so he did feature early on in the season, even popping up to score a goal in our Champions League qualifier, but since then it has 'all gone quiet over there'.

I suppose the real question is, do we really care?

Even in those heady days when the European giants fell at our feet and we cheered his name along with the rest of our heroes, we all knew that he was only covering in that position, that it was a temporary fix. That when one of our 'real' left fulls was back (or we bought a new one) that Flamini would go back to his natural position. Mathieu is of course a midfielder, so to reward his loyalty and never say die attitude, who should we drop? Gilberto? Fabregas? Rosicky perhaps? Or Hleb? - Tough one, isn't it? Do we believe that he is good enough to replace any of the above?

In my opinion the answer is no, nor if I am being honest do I want him to play as a reward for loyalty. And if many of you are honest with yourselves I think you will agree. As fans we demand loyalty from each other as we share a common obsession. Equally we project this expectation onto our players, but perhaps this is, to a degree at least, a tad unfair. Don't get me wrong, apart from the serious money these guys earn, it should be considered a priviledge to play professional football for any club, but do we (or those who pick the team at least) owe those same players the same type of loyalty? If we do then perhaps we are being somewhat unrealistic. For despite the expectation we have of our players to live and die for the team, we quickly forget their efforts with the arrival of someone who is quite simply better.

I would like to state that despite what I have written, my hatred of Cashley Mole continues to grow at a steady rate of knots. That said, it is something to think about. We were in need, someone stepped to the breach, but now that the need has waned, the chap has been left to fester.

Such is the fate of the homeless war veteran or to be less dramatic, the ordinary footballer who once raised his game.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Tuesday October 17 2006
Time: 1:32AM

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valid arguments but a tad harsh I think. Flamini is still young and can improve under the guidance of Arsene, and I'd like to see him get a lot more game time (if at least in the Carling Cup). He did brilliantly well last season and deserved to keep his place even when cashley returned. By the by, does anyone else think he looks like Noel Gallagher of Oasis? (not in the above photo, but at the end of last season with his short hair and 'generous' eyebrows)
17/10/2006 02:14:00
Guys, it looks u didnt read an interview with Flamini early in the season when he stubbornly refused to play at LB that heonly wants to play in the midfield, but replacing whom? He is VERY good man on man but his positioning is suspect to say the least. Remember THAT fateful night in Paris? He replaced Cesc and it was 1 -0. We were simply OVERRUN afterwards in the midfield.
17/10/2006 02:31:00
Not quite sure what those CAPITALS are all about, but are you suggesting that Cesc is more defensively sound than Flamini? Even if you are not, I am not quite ready to blame Matheiu for our defeat in Paris. I do agree that he should be given more of a chance at some level of our club (caling cup and late substitutions etc.) but I don't think he would find that very satisfactory and nor should he, for I believe he will find gainful employment elsewhere. Like so many before who have come in and responded to a need, Hughes, Wreh, Garde, Grimandi, they ultimately proved in the long run to be not good enough. Harsh? Maybe, but stand up if you think he is the new Vieira.
17/10/2006 03:01:00
Gunnerblood. My point is that he CAN be the new Winterburn! Better for him than being a medicore midfielder. EVERYONE should play to their STRENGTHS!! By the way, the CAPITALS are a demonstration of my FRUSTRATION at Flamini for not taking a chance on the LB position ;-)!!!!
17/10/2006 03:09:00
am i the only one unable to scroll down to read comments???
17/10/2006 04:26:00
The simple fact could easily be summed up in one short sentence. We all want to see our best 11 play most weeks and when everyone is fit, Flamini doesn't come into it.
17/10/2006 08:01:00
Don't forget Flamini is only 22, he is still very young, and the guy is very talented even in his prefered midfield position and we've seen that in a few big games over the last two years, he just needs a chance, and i think his chance will come when it's time for gilberto to go, he and cesc are our future central partnership, and this guy Flamini, he reminds me of our old boy Ray Parlour, the same attitude, and the same will to fight for the team, he's going to be a future Arsenal legend (i really hope so) cuz i love him, just hope that his chance comes sooner than later..
17/10/2006 09:17:00
I like him, but he and Fabregas are too lightweight and small to be a pairing in the middle of the park.
17/10/2006 09:29:00
That's precisely it. If he was a horrible bastid, who had gone on moaning, then it wouldn't even cross my mind. For the same reason I always had a soft spot for Cygan (I know, I know) insofar as his attitude was always on the money (even if his talent wasn't).
17/10/2006 09:55:00
Mish - There may still be a few glitches that need to be ironed out. Don't worry, we'll get there in the end!
17/10/2006 11:17:00
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