A Tale of Two Players

Normally, I do not feel much ill will towards departed players. The exceptions are the players who choose to talk negatively about our club excessively. In my mind, the only player who has left a sour taste in my mouth is Ashley Cole. I don’t need to go into why that is, it’s plainly obvious to any Arsenal fan.

With Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure, I feel no ill will.

Sure, Adebayor has made some comments about our fan base. Some of his points are valid, but what he fails to see is that he played a role in his own demise. If he had never flirted so openly with AC Milan, he would still be an Arsenal player today. That flirtation led to a very noticeable lack of effort in a few matches last year. I am in no position to make a declarative statement about the affair, but methinks that the rumblings were very real and that we were close to selling him last summer. Such a scenario can often cause a player’s form to drop.

That being said, even last season, he delivered a few moments that were unforgettable, forever etched into Arsenal history. His Villarreal goal remains a stunning piece of skill that virtually led us to the Champions League semi-finals. His efforts against Manchester United in the semis go largely derided, but I find those claims to be largely baseless. It is not necessarily the apparent work rate that is important as opposed to the intelligent work rate. Yes, he did not run around like a chicken with its head cut off, but he didn’t simply give up on the pitch as some would imply.

In the end, we got 25 million pounds for a striker who no longer felt that he was a part of the Arsenal community. Make no mistake about it, he was sold by Wenger. The fact that the deal extended a few days longer is strictly down to the fact that Adebayor was going from a world class club to a world class wannabe. Adebayor may continue to talk about our fan base, but as long as he doesn’t slander our actual club, I’m okay with it. I will remember his goals and his fun celebrations.

Perhaps Kolo Toure needed a new challenge. His transfer request may have indicated that. The money offered by Manchester City is another possible answer. When I typed the name Kolo Toure, it felt foreign to me, as though I had never seen that particular combination of letters before. It has only been a few weeks since his departure, and in a way, I’ve gotten over it. That is not to underestimate my love for this man. I owned a Kolo Toure shirt, and if he was made captain, I would have praised the choice. But now, he is the captain of Manchester City.

When Kolo contracted malaria in Africa, he came back a different player. Lacking a quarter step and appearing overweight, he was becoming an older version of Mathieu Flamini, effort disguising a slight lack of quality. It is what it is, and again it was a decision by Wenger to sell him on.

Was the sales of Adebayor and Toure an attempt to dissolve an unruly clique in the locker room? Maybe. Was it to prevent a disruption during the African Cup of Nations? Perhaps.

All we know is that, today, they look like this:

And when they take the pitch against us this Saturday as Manchester City players, I will give both of them a round of applause before the game. After the kickoff, they will revert back to what they are, Manchester City players. I will not boo either of them, unless they put in a reckless challenge on one of our players.

Understandably, Manchester City fans have taken to both Adebayor and Toure. They love Adebayor’s work rate and goals (he’s scored in every match). They love Toure’s aggression, intelligence, and never say die attitude. The truth is, they’re experiencing world class players who have given it their all for the first time in quite a while; Robinho takes games off from time to time, and Ireland is just short of world class at the moment (although he’s quite a good player). That feeling is exhilarating. And amongst the two, they should look forward to Adebayor. Everybody knows that Toure’s career is on the wane, but Adebayor’s star may rise and rise. With the contract he so desires, he is set up to go far. And what a surprise, his work rate is back to old levels, although that is due less to footballing reasons as much as it is for image reasons.

They were once our brothers, now they’re just strangers. Football can be like that. Just don’t be surprised if they say that Arsenal was the club of their hearts when they retire. Arsenal is like that.

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