Dignified Gilberto was under-appreciated

From Joel Pergrande

Morning Myles,

I’d be interested to glean your opinion here.

I wonder if you have some more insight into this that I have.

Has any player been treated in a more shoddy way than Gilberto was by Wenger?

I was always very impressed with this player.

A very effective and economical midfielder who allowed the likes of Vieira and later on Fabregas take all the plaudits.

He has a superb attitude to the game and I struggle to recall a time he got himself or anyone else into trouble on the field of play.

Indeed, if he had a crime it was that he was more of a German-style footballer than a Brazilian. When Vieira left in the summer of 2005, he was his most natural replacement as skipper, but of course that accolade had to go to Thierry.

Gilberto did not let this effect him, even though he was a World Cup-winner and went on to captain the greatest footballing nation on Earth.

Instead he became the cornerstone of the Arsenal team that came so close to an unlikely Champions League win in 2006. For large chunks of the following season Henry was out with injury and Gilberto finally got his chance to be captain and handled the job admirably. His level of consistency never dropped and, as previously mentioned, he oversaw the development of Fabregas and Flamini en route to running the full Chelsea team very close in the League Cup Final with “a bunch of kids”. (As an aside, an appalling and disrespectful move for a final on Wenger’s part..)

When Henry finally left for Barcelona that summer, again Gilberto was the outstanding candidate to be our captain.

Instead, Wenger chose the newcomer William Gallas to fill that role – a good player but a terrible captain, as would be proved at Birmingham early the following year. A display of petulance that went a long way to costing Arsenal a league title they should have won that year.

This time Gilberto wasn’t only overlooked as captain, he hardly featured in the first team at all.

Admittedly Flamini was probably there on merit, however his “thanks” to the club was to leave on a free at the end of that summer (and then watch his own career (deservedly?) nosedive into oblivion.)

Despite this Mr Silva still remained a fixture in the Brazil team as captain.

At the end of that season when Arsenal really could have done with his experience to help the youngsters, he was sidelined by Wenger.

And this is my point.

Not once did we ever hear any complaint from the man, from the gentleman indeed. No Twitters, no “Gilberto Reveals” tabloid spewing.

It was clear (and still is) that he loved the club, a fact that was acknowledged by all true fans of the club in his last game for us, which memory tells me was a goalscoring appearance at home to Reading (I could be wrong here…)

Why oh why did “Arsene Knows” treat a true winner this way? There are other examples of this too in my opinion: Lauren, Arshavin and Manninger to name but 3.

However, Gilberto sticks out most for me because of the dignity he showed throughout and still maintains to this day.

Myles says:

Gilberto was a humble guy and a true gentleman.

I met him  once at a Street League event in central London.

As I recall, Wenger decided to do something radical with Fabregas/Hleb/Flamini, which involved playing at a very high tempo and that bold switch  worked well enough to put Arsenal on top of the league for six months.

But he ruined Alex Manninger, a very promising keeper, dropping him twice when he was playing well because the back four wanted their mate Seaman back in the side.

So  Wenger didn’t develop Manninger.

He played  the Austrian  when David Seaman was injured. And he played  Seaman when Seaman was past it because Dixon, Adams and Bould had  a strong relationship with a keeper who wasn’t world class after 1996.

Later on,  Wenger preferred to develop Fabianski  and Szczesny.