Date: 20th August 2008 at 9:21pm
Written by:

Nothing surprises me in football, even in my relatively young life I have seen the most bizarre things imaginable. I have a tee shirt at home that bears testament with the legend, ‘I was there when Jensen scored.’ Nothing surprises me……and then Arsenal signed Mikael Silvestre. Well blowme down with a feather, hands up who saw that coming. I know Arsene likes to spring a surprise but this really knocked me for six when Iogged onto the interweb this morning. Now the signing is confirmed on the official site and we’ve all had a few hours to get our heads around this, I thought no lengthy dissertation is really necessary, just a simple presentation of the pros and cons.

PROS:
Silvestre is experienced to the tune of 249 Premiership appearances, 40 international caps for France (in the era of Thuram, Desailly and Gallas), four Premiership titles, a Champions League winners medal, an FA Cup and a League Cup.

At 31 he adds experience to a young squad at a cheap price and fills a short term gap as cover for Clichy whilst Traore and Gibbs are able to spend a year on loan or try to play in their more natural left wing position.

This April he played in a Champions League Quarter Final, so he can be trusted to come in and do a job in big games.

His departure weakens United. With Neville permanently injured and the da Silva twins boasting 16 minutes of Premiership experience between them, United’s defensive cover looks, well, it looks a bit like John O’Shea. A big injury at the back could see United regret this.

His time at United seems to suggest that he’s not a particularly curmudgeonly little so and so. In his time at United, he generally kept his mouth shut and his head down.

He has a great deal to offer our youngsters, until eighteen months ago he had been an established member of United’s starting line up. He will require no adaption time and has already played with Gallas. As a cerebral member of our squad this is a low risk and sensible acquisition.

CONS
If Ferguson deems him surplus to requirements, why should he be good enough for Arsenal? Indeed, Ferguson obviously doesn’t believe he has strengthened us that much or else he would not have sanctioned the signing.

If Robert Pires was considered too old for a two year contract, why has Mikael Silvestre earned one?

Only a year ago, Silvestre suffered a cruciate ligament injury. At 31 how can we be sure he is anything like the player he was? Our medical staff have hardly covered themselves in glory over the last two years and their medical examination of Rosicky can’t have involved much more than a cursory kick of the tyres.

It hardly suggests confidence in Traore, Senderos and Djourou. And a 31 year old United reject doesn’t quite scream ambition from the rooftops.

Surely our need is for an aerially dominant hulk of a defender to play alongside Gallas or Toure? Silvestre doesn’t seem to fit the mould for what we need. Gallas is a fine back up left back.

Gallas, Diarra, Silvestre, is it me or are we signing a lot of French players with weird shaped heads? I mean, that lot could pass themselves off as the cast of that Dan Akroyd film Coneheads.

My view is that I’m not as angered as others are, Silvestre is a low cost, low risk gamble who offers cover and experience across the whole backline. But my issue is not with Arsenal’s ambition or anything of that ilk (though I mean it when I say I’m concerned about the Pinky and the Brain style heads), but I’m not entirely sure he’s what we really require. It’s not what he is, but what he isn’t that troubles me. But like I said, it’s hardly the signing that’s going to send us all to hell in a little rowboat. If Clichy pulls a hamstring next week, this is a smart purchase.LD.