Thursday, May 25, 2006
Adieu et merci, Bobby mon ami.
So, it was finally confirmed today that Bobby Pires will be swapping the Canons of London for the Submarines of Spain. Considering the rounds this story has been doing, I was surprised at the shock i felt when i logged into bbc.co.uk this morning and read that the move had been confirmed. You never want to see players of Bobby's quality go, no matter how old they are. Vieira last year, Dennis and Bobby this year: it's a lot to take.
It's, ultimately, a sensible move though. Bobby has one more good season left in him; but not two. Arsene called his bluff, and while he has the security he wanted at Villareal - at least ostensibly, i hope he doesn't become one of those players who's constantly moving at the end of their careers - I've no doubt that he really wanted to stay at the club. Arsene's over-30 contract policy has, to my mind, culled a major victim in its ruthless efficiency.
Fittingly, there is a near torrent of articles celebrating his time as a Gooner on Arsenal.com. I particularly like this picture special. I strongly recommend, if you haven't already, checking them out. They are a great tribute to a great player, and bring to light some things I was thinking about when his departure was announced.
Firstly: his consistency of goalscoring against Spuds. Gotta love that. His goal at the lane earlier this year was a far harder chance than it looked. As Myles on ANR pointed out at the time, Bobby was the only Arsenal player on the pitch who would have tucked away an opportunity like that. There are countless others, including that great finish in the epic 5-4 in the previous season. Indeed, as arsenal.com points out, Bobby has played in 12 matches against the Spuds in which he's never been on the losing team and he's scored 8 goals. Top class boyo!
Secondly: his general class and goal scoring ability. He just oozes technical ability and danger. He has a very characteristic style of play, and looks almost flat-footed at times. But he was devastatingly effective at cutting in from the flanks, and either scoring, or setting up others. I should imagine Thierry will be particularly gutted to see him leave as not only were they friends, they had a superb footballing relationship. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tel pay tribute to him in the next few days.
Two memorable goals for me, out of many, were his incredible curler against Liverpool in the unbeaten season, and the double lob against Villa. It almost seemed unfair to humiliate Schemical in that way; until, of course, you remembered that he was an ex-Manc. The sheer number of goals Bobby got us - he was regularly in the top-ten goalscorers in the PL each year - really drove our performances. I think the fact they've dried up this year - his goals and Ljunberg's - really hurt the team, and showed just how important his performances were to the club when he was in his prime.
Thirdly: that moment at the trophy presentation ceremony. Brilliant. I never knew 'Wayne's World' was such a popular film among Gooners. He thoroughly deserved to be footballer's writer of the year. Also, his courage from coming back from a potentially career ending injury was hugely laudable. I don't think he was ever quite the same player after the injury, but he was still brilliant.
It's been a tough final season for Bob. The goals haven't been there as much, and I completely understand if he was at tears at the end of the CL final. He didn't deserve that, but that's the way football is sometimes. Still, its fitting that he scored in the final game at Highbury after all the joy he's brought us in the last six years. I hope he remembers that performance as his 'true' final game for the club.
So, farewall mon ami. You did us, and the club, proud. A truly great Arsenal player has left the building, but shall not be forgotten. All the best in the future.
Oh, and here's a link to some of his performances. Enjoy.