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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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  1. Cord4Gooner

    August 23, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Gallas scored some big goals for Arsenal and had a lot of bright moments!
    However, he was a horrible teammate and not someone to have the Young Guns to develop around. Billy Gallas might have a little left in the tank, but his Rotten leadership skills and team-chemistry killing personality are an ideal match for the rotten spuds.

  2. charlestace

    August 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Fans get upset when a GOOD player leaves their team for a bitter rival. I am certain many Arsenal supporters consider Gallas to have been such a liability that they’re relatively happy to see him at Tottenham.

  3. Dave C

    August 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Arsenal fans probably aren’t shedding a tear for the simple reason that Gallas has been a bit of a liability (on and off the field) for the last year or two. And also the fact that he’d already switched from Chelsea earlier in his career meant that he never gave any illusion of loyalty.

    Actually I think it’s pretty interesting that Gallas’ form seems to have really nose-dived since he started to “believe his own hype” (as they say). At Chelsea, I really thought he was a top defender. By rights, he should probably have been first choice Center back (ahead of John Terry), but instead he was shuffled around the back four because of his versatility. Then eventually he started getting an ego and demanding to be played in his favorite position, so he ended up being shipped out to Arsenal. Ever since, he seems to have been garbage.

  4. mw828

    August 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Couple of things. Gallas definitely is getting a pay cut. Quite simply, he took a chance and it didn’t really work out. Now he is getting the best he can at this moment.

    Spurs cap has probably edged up a bit from the 60k pwk range. It probably isn’t above 70k though.

  5. Huh

    August 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Couldn’t care less about Campbell just pointing out the writer is wrong. I didn’t know that their were so many football agents on EPLtalk, or do you all work for Tottenham accounts department as you seem to have a good knowledge of their wage structure (reality being you have got a clue and please don’t post newspaper links etc cos don’t have a clue either). Gallas was reportedly asking for £80k the wage he was probably already on, Arsenal will have offered low because of his age (imo). So he moves where the BEST offer is and that was the Spuds with big wages and nice big fat signing on fee to boot. I think it’s highly unlikely he dropped £15k off his asking price.

  6. breeezy

    August 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    actually `huh`, he was offered a contract by arsenal but he declined it and joined for tottenham. Oh and by the way nobody on the tottenham team has a salary of over 65k. Tottenham keep a tight salary of that amount and wouldn’t pass it for anyone. Not even modric gets over 65k, so im sure Gallas wouldn’t get that.

  7. orangina

    August 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    At least Smudger waived his personal fees and gave everything and more to Leeds to help them survive financially. He never wanted to leave and it disgusts me that people think he is a traitor yet no one would give us £7m up front and Leeds were hell bent on selling him to stave off administration. He was 23, ambitious and at the time, a damn good striker and footballer. A lovely guy off the pitch who has continued to support Leeds as he’s been seen at games. Can’t turn the clock back but I’m confident he’ll be back and welcomed by the majority of proper Leeds fans, before the window shuts 🙂 you wait and see..

    • Paul Bestall

      August 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks for that Oragina. I wasn’t sure what the situation was, but it was his way of helping out I take it. Fair enough!

  8. Huh

    August 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Lets get it right Paul he’s an Arsenal reject, they didn’t want him. Therefore he hasn’t join your ‘swapped Arsenal for Tottenham’ club as he is a free agent, and he’ll be doing his best to empty Levy’s pockets by at least £80-£100k per week!! Great value eh.

    • Matt

      August 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm

      Well Arsenal offered Gallas a new contract, so that’s strange to say that they didn’t want him.

      The highest wage earner at Spurs makes about 65,000 pounds a week, something that isn’t going to change to bring Billy Gallas over. Joe Cole was offered that amount, but decided to go to Liverpool for 90,000 a week, and I don’t think Harry or Levy rates Gallas more highly than Joe Cole.

      Gallas will almost certainly be on a smaller contract than he was at Arsenal, even Redknapp said that it was a bad financial decision for Gallas to not take the new contract.

      By your logic, S*l C***bell didn’t swap Tottenham for Arsenal either, because he was a free agent as well, after running down his contract and saying several times he’d never leave for Arsenal.

    • Enorme Nuez

      August 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      Also Campbull stated in a program before that he would NEVER play for Ar5ena1. Campbull could’ve gone to ManUre and Barcelona along with a slew of other prominent European side. Had Spurs known that his intention was to leave then they would’ve sold him. It wasn’t JUST that he went to our rival it was in the manner he did it. I would expect Gallas to get grief from Gooner fans upon his return to the United Arab Emirates Stadium.

  9. robert

    August 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    david bentley also played for spurs and arsenal in your lifetime.

    • Paul Bestall

      August 22, 2010 at 5:47 pm

      Ah, but went somewhere in between first.

      • Jeff

        August 23, 2010 at 11:19 am

        i.e., Blackburn Rovers

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