Some people love the guy, some think his time is up, I’m afraid to say that my opinion is of the latter – please read what I say before castigating me!
When Ashley Cole left, Clichy took his chance so well – he displayed all the characteristics he displayed now but there was also a reliability to his game, you knew that if you but the very best up against him you could hedge your bets on him giving them a damn good game. Sadly, his game is more of a liability now – even average players can get change out of him.
As a fan I see why people love him, he works so hard for the team and is one of the longest serving players at the club – (If you class Henri Lansbury as first team, he is the second longest serving player) – However, there is only so long you can live off past glories. What is clear is that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes, time and time again he gets a headrush when he is under pressure and does something stupid. It sounds such a horrible thing to say but sometimes you can’t help but think he is a bit simple…
If I put two and two together without knowing the facts 100%, the chances are that I will come back with the number five as the answer – however I will have a go at it. In the last few years, Clichy has had a fair bit of trouble with his lower back suffering from two stress fractures. One was at the tail end of the 08/09 season, and the other (on the other side of his back – almost identically) was a few months later in November 2009.
Could these have had an effect on him? Maybe, he has never been the same player he was before those injuries but his form hasn’t been top notch since the Eduardo incident which was even before that. So does that just void the point I was trying to make? Even I don’t know that.
In some ways I do feel as if the manager has some responsibility to shoulder for the obvious decline in Clichy. One thing you need to get the best out of a player is competition, and he has very rarely had any. Last season Armand Traore was the main candidate to pressure him for position but that was only because the injury prone Kieran Gibbs was on the sidelines. He could provide massive competiton to Gael but just can’t stay fit for longer than one game at a time. It isn’t really his fault, he has just had dreadful luck – but, has the lack of competition following his run of injuries not exerted enough pressure on Clichy and given him the idea that his place in the side is a given, regardless of performances? Should Wenger have brought in another left back?
Clichy may also be a victim of Arsene’s perceived negligence of defensive duties in training? He comes across as the type of player who needs to be told what to do and we all know that the defenders very rarely work on defending specifically in training.
People may make the point that Clichy receives little, or no, help from Andrey Arshavin who leaves him hopelessly exposed time after time but surely the first thing a defender has to be able to do is defend. It is completely understandable if the best players he comes up against take advantage of that and give him a torrid time, but surely he should still be able to deal with some of the other players he comes up against? Failing that, he should think for himself and put in the extra yards after training and specifically ask to practice dealing with being left exposed by the player in front of him. Put in the hard yards to improve – use his initiative to try and better himself. For all I know he could have done that, but he has been progressively getting worse.
Again, another bone I have to pick with the manager is that if he is being targeted, someone has to help him out to negate that threat and that clearly hasn’t happened. The thing is, this dip in performance from Clichy has gone on for a couple of years now, we are not talking months or a matter of games – it has been a long, long time since we have seen him be the stand out player in a game, where you can say afterwards ‘he really was fantastic’ – Its more ‘it was his mistake, again’. It shouldn’t be like that.
This is why my stance is that we should look at offloading him and bringing in a better player – not even promoting Kieran Gibbs because of his fitness issues and he hasn’t ‘won’ a place in the team despite him playing well when called upon.
I’m not going to name names and insist we but such and such from Spain, Italy or Germany – but what is clear is that Clichy is the weakest point of what is becoming a notoriously weak defence.
It may be better for both parties to move him on, however, I’m sure plenty of you disagree.