Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
By Mike Collett in London
If things had turned out differently, William Gallas could well have been facing Champions League heartache with Arsenal in Barcelona rather than glory with their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur this week.
The 33-year-old France midfielder is one of only a handful of players down the years to have moved across the North London divide — and is absolutely delighted he did.
After a naturally hesitant baptism at his new club at the start of the season, Gallas has played a huge part in Spurs success and played a vital role in their goalless last-16 second leg draw with AC Milan on Wednesday that put Spurs into the quarter-finals with a 1-0 m aggregate victory.
With 26 minutes played he saved a certain Milan goal with a goalline clearance and along with skipper Michael Dawson was at the heart of a defensive masterclass that echoed that of Liverpool or Arsenal themselves in their glory years.
Overseeing qualification for the World Cup via a blatant handball is unlikely to do much for the popularity of French coach Raymond Domenech, either at home or abroad (his Wikipedia page is currently saying some very nasty things about him, but it will doubtless be put back to its less offensive version soon).
The 57-year-old former defender, whose name is booed at every match, has never made any effort to make himself popular, but here are 10 reasons (or nearly 10) why football fans may want to reconsider their view:
France’s decisive goal against Ireland in their World Cup play-off will only add further weight to the case for using a video ref, or extra goal-line officials, at least in the biggest matches.
The controversial extra-time strike from William Gallas took France through to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while leaving the Irish barely able to contain a sense of frustration and injustice.
After a foray into the mix zone after the English League Cup final, the injured Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe replied to one journalist who asked him why he had cut all his hair off.
“I had to, I only ever seem to get injured when I have longer hair,” he said.
The William Gallas saga behind them, Arsenal have reached the last 16 of the Champions League after a 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev.
A late winner from substitute Nicklas Bendtner was enough to send the Gunners through with a game to spare but will Arsene Wenger have to change things if his young side are to progress further in the competition?
“There’s a lot of cover-ups sometimes and players need to stand up and be counted. I’m not sure that happens a lot at this club.” — Roy Keane, May 7, 2002.
“When you play for Manchester United nothing should interfere with what you are doing during the week and during a match. I have felt that one or two of the younger players have slackened off in training. I have not been happy about it. I have said it to them but maybe I have had to say it in public for them to sit up and take notice.” — Roy Keane, Feb 19, 2004.
For 12 years, Arsenal fans have been used to a manager so loyal it borders on the belligerent, but that quality appears to be lost on the team’s captain, William Gallas.