By Randy Osae
On Wednesday August 20, 2008, Mikael Silvestre was announced, via the club’s official website, as Arsene Wenger’s latest – and what was later realized – the final shocking rabbit out of his mysterious hat.
The eve of that day was idle – it was just one of those hearsays that happened only on video game formats. But it was actually right, that for once, at least in this era, Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson shook hands behind closed doors in agreement.
The profit of that handshake has not been enjoyed yet, but those who followed Silvestre as a Mancunian know it all. As a defender, he possesses the composure of a toddler coming through his teeth-growing days. Screaming at colleagues and being the center of disputes is not his style. Silvestre when called into action is very attentive too. Not to forget, his versatility. Left footed, he is capable of filling the left back position, and did score 10 times on those occasions for United. The last was at Watford in 2006/07. Since then, injuries have been his biggest nemesis.
But the question is, why did Wenger stretch that far?. Why was it all the way to Manchester to pay £750,000 for a forgotten, out-of-favor fellow who will only be there to teach the upcoming ones.
Le Gaffer always pulls it off, thus, this signing could be the much needed backbone when the attacking minded Arsenal look behind on the pitch. Silvestre does foresee the threats of set pieces, but just like country-man, William Gallas, it’s all the French way. His height is adequate though for a defender, but how often he will play and where, is the other wonder.
It would be ludicrous for him to suddenly seize either Toure or Gallas’ spots. He does have a role somehow. Silvestre’s experience and dressing room contributions will be valued and being a veteran back-up to Clichy is fine too.
But the French defender and his new boss both prefer the central position.
From his words, Silvestre was actually still accepted at Old Trafford and for now, we can call him one of Arsenal’s centre-backs. And that is the answer to those who were not sure.
“Arsene Wenger wants me to play more centrally and that’s fine by me,” said Silvestre
“I wasn’t having enough opportunities at United, even if Sir Alex Ferguson wanted me to stay. But I wanted to play a bit more which is why I felt it was time to move.
“I’ll also have the chance to help the younger players. Experience comes naturally as you develop and the younger guys will look up to senior players like myself and William Gallas as we’re the ones who have been around for a while.”
He will join and guide fellow back-up Djourou in that pecking order, but definitely will not hesitate to play anywhere else when ordered to.