I am not suggesting that William Gallas is anywhere near a great captain. Specifically, he is no Tony Adams or Patrick Vieira. But he is a decent captain, and he is getting better.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about that night in Birminghman.
That was low. We all know it was low. And William, undoubtedly, knows it was low. He's certainly taken enough stick—and gracefully—o understand how people feel about his actions.
But it was a brutal game. A hard-fought game. A game that Arsenal did not deserve to draw. It was a turning point in the season. It was a game when Eduardo suffered a horror tackle from which he still has not recovered.
It was a game in which Gael Clichy was blamed for a bad tackle which replays showed was clean. It was a game in which an undeserved penalty led to the draw.
(I have no sour grapes at all. Even though Clichy’s challenge was ultimately clean, he was always risking a call by throwing that tackle, particularly at full speed in front of the ref, and Clichy knew that going in).
Subsequently, Gallas’ theatrical crying was one of the shabbiest displays a captain could ever succumb to. It was a damning moment, and it rightly called into question Gallas' captaincy credentials, very nearly losing him the armband in the offseason.
But here it is, a new season, and Gallas still has the armband and he is still leading Arsenal. For now, I think Arsene has made the right choice.
Sure, Fabregas (who will obviously be our captain in a year or two) and Toure are contenders, but wouldn’t we rather the former concentrated on becoming the best while the latter simply concentrates on getting back to his stellar form? I know I’d prefer that, for now.
Apart from those two, there really is no one else who could fill the role besides Gallas. And when it comes down to it, Gallas isn’t doing such a poor job.
He has had some bad moments, clearly, but the game against Dynamo Kiev is a perfect example of his good moments—and he has more of those than nights like Birmingham.
Bacary Sagna got himself into trouble, much like Clichy, by making foolish and unnecessary contact with defensive midfielder Ognjen Vukojević. There was no real foul from Sagna, and in slow motion, it was a clear dive by Vukojević. But Sagna is still to blame, not the ref.
At full speed, the incident appeared to be a spot kick.
Only the hindsight of slo-mo revealed Vukojević dragging Sagna to the ground. Regardless, Sagna should know better than to make contact in the box, thereby inviting the attacker to go for the spot kick. It is Defending 101.
The deed was done, however, and there was no turning back. Kiev went up one-nil at home.
But what was Gallas’ response? Did he cry on the sideline like he did last February in Birmingham? No. Did he get petulant and bully Kiev players? No. Did he scrap with the refs and make an ass of himself? No. Did he hack down the offending midfielder? No.
All of those are the mark of a shabby captain.
Instead, William Gallas scored a goal. An important goal. The important goal. And he salvaged a point for the Arsenal.
That is what good captains do. They lift the team.
Some do it with fight, some do it with bite, some do it with goals. Gallas is one of those who does it with goals. And the man is a central defender.
So far this season he has scored in every Champions League game. Three goals in three games. A great return from any defender for a full season, let alone two rounds of a competition. Pretty impressive, no?
So even though he takes much stick, I think it needs to end.
The best captain in the Premiership right now is Steven Gerrard (oh, how it hurts to say), but William Gallas is not that far off the mark.
Is he ideal? Probably not. But being the Arsenal’s captain keeps him stable, and when the chips are down he mostly comes through.
Plus, I am willing to bet that the Birminghams are behind him.
Gallas is passionate, fierce, he fights for the club, he scores goals, and he leads by example.
He might not be the best captain, but he is ours. And I stand by him.
After all, the man improves every game, and that has to count for more than something.