Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Saturday April 26 2008
I'll begin by giving my perspective on michievous rumours surrounding a possible return of Thierry Henry. My position has not really changed from his last two years at the club, it would be enormously detrimental and a monumental error. Henry is one of the greatest players in this club's history, but letting him go was Wenger's affirmation of faith in his young charges and they have flourished without Henry's stifling personality. Re signing him would be an enormous blow to those young players. Adebayor, Fabregas and Hleb have all propsered with the new responsibility, to take it away fromthem would be a huge mistake. I don't think it will happen for those reasons. A few players have been quite candid in their assessment that Henry's presence inhibited them. Thierry is also incredibly injury prone and would command huge wages. Nothing about this move would be good. But I sincerely doubt that Wenger will let sentiment cloud his better judgement and take a nostalgic reach back into the past.
However, another Arsenal skipper and legend has thrown his hat into the ring of Arsenal's future. With Adams' contract at Pompey up in the summer and Arsenal lacking defensive fortitude, many, myself included, have vouched for the deployment of a defensive coach. In 2006, Arsene Wenger deployed the services of Martin Keown on the training ground, a spell which coincided with Arsenal's run of ten consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League. With Pat Rice and Steve Bould already on the fields of London Colney, there appears to be the expertise, but perhaps a specialist can help us make that next step and freshen up the set upa bit. It is somewhat poignant that Wenger once referred to Adams as 'a doctor of defence.'
Adams now seems to, not so much have issued a come and get me plea, but yanked down his trackie bottoms and Arsenal boxers and yelled, 'come and get it!'
'I always tried to lead by example [at Arsenal] and get out there and make sure they realised they were playing for the Arsenal. I tried to install in the team a kind of 'over our dead bodies` kind of attitude.
'I just feel that people don`t realise that the best back four win the league. The last two seasons Manchester United have had the best back four and, before that, John Terry and his men were fantastic for two years.'
With Arsenal also lacking a team of natural leaders to supplement Gallas, the presence of Adams may also add some steel to the training ground. It is interesting that Adams alludes so explicitly to the defence, he appears to be openlytouting for the specific role of defensive coach. In some comments that bordered on the sycophantic, Adams continued,
'We`ve kept more clean sheets at Portsmouth than Arsenal have, but I`m not going to question the great man [Wenger].
I love the club, it was part of my life for so many years and if anyone at Arsenal wants to invite me back, I`m willing to give it a shot. I`m fully prepared and willing to do what I have to do."
In the past, the rumour mill has suggested Adams had fallen out of love with the club following conspicuous no shows at the last game at Highbury and Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial. Indeed, Adams never publicly revisited Highbury following his retirement. Personally, I felt there was a rift between Wenger and Adams as Big Tone never formally announced his retirement, either to the press or the manager, leaving Wenger's pre season plans in confusion. However, any lingering resentment appears to have evaproated on Adams' part. But has it on Wenger's? It all sounds perfect, but football isn't always logical or romantic. Ask Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardilles. H.L. Mencken once remarked that a cynic smells flowers and immediately begins to look for a coffin. If Arsene chooses to dig up the earthy remains of the past, will we come up smelling of roses?LD.
Date:Saturday April 26 2008
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