Here’s hoping to good times ahead.
The Ivory Coast international signed a four-year deal with Manchester City last month, ending a seven-year stint with the north London club.
Almunia said: “I was surprised by Kolo. He was a big part of Arsenal, one of the greatest players we’ve had over the last few years. He was happy here and when I see him in the papers wearing a City shirt, it is very strange.
“But now we must work with different people. We have a new central defender in Thomas Vermaelen and must cope with this. In football people come and go. It’s life.
“Kolo lived through great times at Arsenal. He won the league as part of a great team, the ‘Invincibles’. But when you are at any place for a long time, you sometimes need a change and to change your way of life, the city where you live, the team-mates you see every day.
“Maybe he was a bit bored, a bit tired of being with the same people every day, in the same atmosphere. He needed a change and you could see it in his face he was not really, really happy in his last period at Arsenal.”
Fabregas has once again been linked with a transfer away from the Emirates Stadium this summer and, while the club insist the Spain midfielder is going nowhere, Almunia knows the Gunners must win something to keep hold of the 22-year-old.
Almunia added: “With Cesc, the same could happen but he has a lot more to offer Arsenal yet. Kolo gave everything to this club and won titles. He gave 100 per cent. (Daily Telegraph)
As an Arsenal fan this is a tad worrying, mainly because I can see where Almunia is coming from and it’s an interesting insight into what may or may not motivate a player to up sticks and leave. Kolo Toure doesn’t strike me as the kind of character to leave simply for financial reasons and whilst his spat with William Gallas was also a motivating factor I guess it would be unwise to rule out the effect four seasons of relative failure can do to a player’s psyche.
Worryingly dragging Cesc into the equation is also fairly reasonable and I do get a sense that Arsene Wenger can’t afford another ‘season of transition’ not because he would get sacked, because that should never even be considered given what he has done for the Gunners, but more in terms of what may or may not happen to a few of the players who have been around for a few years and had to experience this sustained period of mediocrity.
Players like Robin Van Persie, Gael Clichy and Almunia himself have all been around at the club long enough to have experienced the good times and thus made the subsequent years of struggle that bit harder to bare.
Whether you blame the slump on overdependence on youth, an inability to replace big name exits or simply a lack of funds to shake things up a bit, it’s worth considering what kinds of lasting effect this kind of atmosphere can have on footballers, much like we may as workers get bored at our jobs if we felt like we were treading water, which in many ways is exactly what the club has been doing these past few years.
I have complete faith in Arsene, not blind faith, but a sense that if there is one man who has the proven ability to turn things around (remember how bad things were at the tail end of George and then Bruce) then it’s the Frenchman, and as long as the players continue to believe this to be the case then there is very real hope that our bad run will hopefully come to a screaming halt.