Gallas Crosses The North London Divide

Jan. 31, 2010 - London, United Kingdom - epa02013110 Arsenal's William Gallas (L) heads just wide of the bar past Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar (R) in the last minute during the English League soccer match, Arsenal vs Manchester United, at The Emirates Stadium in London, Britain, 31 January 2010.

So William Gallas joins a very rare club indeed of players that have swapped Arsenal for Tottenham. I was stating the same to a friend the other day that I can’t remember it happening in my lifetime as a Spurs fan, for me it’s unique. I’ve seen it happen the other way twice, Pat Jennings moved to Arsenal after being shamelessly treated by the Tottenham board and I can’t quite remember the other one, some central defender or other.

Either way, moving to a rival club without the usual space somewhere else in between is highly unusual. Carlos Tevez completely misunderstood Manchester United fans by choosing to go to City. He didn’t think they’d be that bothered,  but when you add a billionaire and a loud mouthed chief executive, things change. Nick Barmby was also surprised by the vitriol from Everton fans after he sauntered across Stanley Park to join Liverpool. Ashley Cole virtually created the Chelsea/Arsenal rivalry single handed!

William Gallas Arsenal 2009/10 Arsenal V Atletico Madrid (2-1) 01/08/09 at the Emirates Stadium The Emirates Cup 2009 Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International

It’s still a fairly rare event in the modern era of hyperbole and spectacle that we call the Premiership these days. On Friday, Sky Sports seemed rather disappointed that Arsenal fans were not sending in death threats and Spurs fans seemed fairly relaxed about it. As controversial transfers go, this is not one of the bitterest ones, it’s hardly up there with Mo Johnstone or Luis Figo.

It’s interesting just how strangely people react to such transfers but see nothing wrong with doing it themselves in normal life. People will usually leave one company to join a rival one for better wages, sometimes they will leave a partner for one their friends for various reasons, sometimes they will want to get as far away from where they grew up as they could. Yet, leave your beloved football club for your bitterest rivals, it becomes simply unforgivable.

Bildnummer: 03920542 Datum: 30.08.2008 Copyright: imago/Ulmer/Lingria..Luis Figo Photo via Newscom

The emotive ties we have to our football clubs simply makes it an unforgivable act, something that is simply beyond the pale. Personally I think it’s a canny signing by Redknapp, who seems stuck between a rock and a hard place in the transfer market this summer. Clearly he has a set of targets, but everything depends on Wednesday nights result against Young Boys of Berne. Certain players will simply not entertain the thought of playing for a team that is not in the Champions League, unless you can offer them £200,000 a week like Manchester City are doing at the moment.

Gallas has certainly managed to avoid too much flak over the transfer but no doubt if he plays in the first North London derby of the season on November 21st will of course be booed. That is to be expected and I doubt he can even contemplate the furore that greeted Luis Figo’s visit to the Nou Camp as a Real Madrid player. The sight of a pigs head landing near him as he went to take a corner is still one of the strangest sites I’ve ever seen at a football match.

What does have me scratching my head is trying to think of any similar transfers where the player involved didn’t get any stick. Did Alan Smith survive after leaving Leeds to join Manchester United? As I mentioned before, Pat Jennings didn’t get any stick when Spurs shipped him out, the fans realised it was the board and not the player. Have I missed anyone who left a side to join their rivals with best wishes? Leave me your thoughts and points below.

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