Archive for May 5th, 2008

Flamini Signs For Milan

35 comments May 5th, 2008

From the Reserves to the Rossonieri.

AC Milan have confirmed that Mathieu Flamini will join them this Summer on a four year contract, having completed a medical this afternoon.

Flamini will be seen as the long-term successor to Rino Gattuso as Milan’s midfield enforcer.

Flamini’s last appearance for the club came in our Champions League exit at Anfield – doubtless his injury and departure from the field of play had a big impact on the final result.

He is not a special player. Technically, he is accomplished but not outstanding. However, his incredible stamina was reflected in the fact that he covered more ground than any other Premier League player this season. His passing was consistent, and his tackling ferocious. Furthermore, unlike Patrick Vieira and Gilberto before him, he liberated Cesc Fabregas and granted the Spaniard license to attack and score goals.

The race to replace him starts now. It’s a big call, Arsene. Here’s hoping you get it right.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Everton: Goodbye Jens and Mathieu

Add comment May 5th, 2008

This was one of the most awful football matches I have ever been to. At least a friendly is self-consciously low key. This was just boring.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted to stay and acknowledge the players on their lap of honour, I probably would’ve left after an hour or so. We were fielding a considerably weakened side, and neither us nor Everton seemed to have much interest in winning the game. Victory fell into our hands almost by happy accident rather than any purposeful desire.

The highlights were as follows:

  • Another very assured performance from Alex Song at centre-back. Whilst he is doing well there, his best performances in the position come in games when we’re primarily on the front foot, and his job is to play high up the pitch link the defence with the midfield. I think it’s clear he’s a defensive midfielder filling in, and not the long-term solution we desperately need.
  • An excellent goal from Nicklas Bendtner, who powered in his ninth of the season. This year has been one in the bank for Bendtner – next season, like Song, he can be considered a fairly reliable squad member.
  • The farewell to Jens Lehmann, who came on as a substitute and was the last player to leave the pitch. Whatever troubles he’s caused, he was an instrumental figure in the Unbeaten side, the FA Cup winning side of 2005, and of course in our Champions League run in 2006. And off the pitch, he’s always handled himself with class, as this interview demonstrates. Replacing David Seaman was an impossible job, but Jens had the personality and talent to manage it. Now the baton passes to Manuel Almunia – hopefully he can bring similar success.

That was about it really.  I watched the lap of honour with particular attention to see if I could derive any hints that certain players might be saying their final farewell.  Cesc had his arm round Mathieu Flamini, and was forcing an embarrassed looking Flamini into a half-hearted wave goodbye.

That was followed by the news that Flamini flew to Milan after the game to ink a contract with Serie A giants AC.  The figures vary depending on what paper you read, but it’s clear that financially we just could not compete.  I think Flamini’s decision to move is understandable.  He knows that it’s unlikely his stock will ever be higher.  As a free agent following the season he’s had, this is his chance to move to the club of his dreams for money those dreams could not even have contemplated twelve months ago.  When you consider that last Summer I expected him to sign for Birmingham, his career has undergone a massive transformation.

What is important now is how he is replaced:  Will Gilberto decide to stay and compete for a place alongside Cesc?  Will a new player be brought in, such as Football Manager stalwart Jean Il Makoun?

Well, we’ve got all that glorious fun to come.  And I haven’t even mentioned Hleb…

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