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Could Pires still do a job for us?

The news that former invincible Robert Pires is training with the club in an endeavour to maintain fitness while seeking another club was bound to raise the thought that he might follow the path trod by Sol Campbell last season.

Bobby will be 37 this month and though only a month older than Ryan Giggs is past the point where we could realistically expect him to contribute at the level we are playing. The extent to which clubs like ManU and Chelsea have used older players with some success over recent seasons does raise the issue of whether we might have missed a trick ourselves. As part of the process of developing a team while constrained by finances during the stadium build phase there is no doubt that part of the price for this was that we couldn`t support the retention of older players, in some cases on big money, and invariably those players had to be sacrificed while they could still command a transfer fee.

This has been more evident in midfield than elsewhere. We have always accepted a fair degree of maturity was necessary in defence though that has only tended to come in the form of Gallas and Silvestre in the last couple of seasons or so. In midfield it has been different though the departure of Hleb and the protracted injury problems of Rosicky exaggerated a midfield maturity deficit beyond that we might have expected. Still in other teams we see that as well as Giggs, Scholes while in his thirties still contributes for the present and last season Chelsea still got something out of Ballacks ageing legs for a time. Vieira`s reported six figure a week salary for what has been less than 10 starts for Manchester City since joining in January doesn`t make much sense even for them but financial sense just isn`t a consideration for them at present.

The Wenger policy of offering one year contracts beyond the age of 32 has come in for some criticism but it is the right one. Midfield is all about energy, pace, power and technique which requires young legs to get up and down the pitch. That`s not to say that some experience isn`t valuable as Bergkamps contribution up until he played the last 10 minutes of his Arsenal career in the final game at Highbury 3 days before his 37th birthday in 2006 shows. It was in January of that year that he last started a game, a league cup game against Wigan, but 12 starts and 19 sub appearances and 3 goals was a contribution even younger players wouldn`t be ashamed of. The Icemans willingness to accept 1 year contracts for the last 5 years of his career was key to that success but we can expect that as this midfield matures, those that remain with us would find that the lifting of the financial burden would make it more likely that one or two of them could achieve similar longevity with similar flexibility. Maybe Tomas Rosicky`s contribution to the Arsenal cause will yet achieve the recognition, in Arsenal colours, his quality should have given already.

As for Bobby, he was moved to the point of tears at the reception he got last year when returning with Villareal to the rapturous acclaim of a stadium full of appreciative gooners. I am sure the 3 years he spent in Spain would have been an experience he would have appreciated but he, and we, will never know just how much more appreciated he would have been now had he accepted the 1 year contract he was offered 3 years ago.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday October 13 2010

Time: 10:08AM

Your Comments

Why couldn't we support the retension of older players when the youngsters are on a fair old whack themselves? I thought it was Wenger's one year policy? Didn't realise it had much to do with the stadium
shewore
The older players Vieira, Pires, Gilberto et c., would have been the big earners but would have contributed progressively less as time went on. The younger players have seen their pay packets pick up as they have matured and as stadium income has allowed. the way to get the older players to accept one year contracts would have been to offer them more money to stay on. We were only able to make offers that might have made sense in the context of a wage bill that also needed to keep the commitment of the younger players but not ones the elders couldn't refuse.
Amos.
I knew that picture of Pires would come in handy sooner or later.
Rocky7
Ultimately, none of us knows if Pires would be useful to us as a player, because we don't know what condition he is in. Can't be bad to have around the training ground though.
Little Dutch
even if his return was as good as campbells, can you see him forcing his way into the left side when arshavin and nasri can play there?
goonard
Well there's no way he would play on the wing like he used to, if he were to play it'd be hoverring around the same patch of pitch for most of the game, in the centre, and let him have fair few strilkes from outside the box.
shewore
great point goonard, but i believe he can play on the right to
big ash
who would he replace in the centre? song? no, fabregas? no, i dont think he will be able to get into the team, however he could help with the younger players
goonard
I don't see him replacing anyone, simples.
shewore
I didn't give Sol a cat in hell's chance of being signed by Wenger but no only did he get signed he was one of our best players towards the end of the season. That said, we got many emerging talents in midfield unlike our defence last season where we only had Gallas and Vermaelen ahead of Sol. And I don't see Wenger playing a guy his age on the attacking left or right in a 4-3-3.
gronedrone
look we all know how injury prone our team is, by january we'd have a good 5-6 players crocked, so if bobby can prove his fitness, it's only a good thing to give him a six month contract, he may start a few games here and there, most of em at home, play all the domestic cup games, and bring him on whenever we need a goal. the guy may not have the legs he had a few years ago, but he certainly has the brains and the class. ten minutes to go, chasing a winner or 1-0 down, he can make the difference, always knows where to be on the pitch, and then in the penalty box, haven't seen a more cooler player than him!!
luckys_10
m my opinion I think hes a great player, but wouldnt be quick enough to compete on the wing in the PL. I think that he would be a good coach for younger midfielders as 'goonard' said
Super-Conza
i agree, he just hasnt got the touch to be in the team, although he is a great player and an arsenal legend he cant compete with the current talent in the team
superkieran
If Pires did play for us at 37 and struggled as a result I think that it would be a very sad sight indeed. Best allow the memory to remain as it is.
Sir Henry
 

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