Tuesday 28 July 2009

Bye bye King Kolo

I still remember Kolo's debut season, the dates and the opposition don't immediately spring to mind, what stands out in my memory is the amazing enthusiasm that this young lad from the Ivory Coast showed every time he pulled on an Arsenal shirt. He started out as a bit part player, sometimes on the wing and sometimes at full back, he was initially rash, his raw enthusiasm sometimes getting the better of him as he scythed down members of the opposition in a rather reckless manner. However one thing that can be sure is that from those early moments Kolo gained a special place in our Arsenal hearts.

Kolo's enthusiasm was the reason he became a fantastic centre back for us, he worked prodigiously hard to make the best of his talents, those being his raw pace and athleticism, not forgetting his fairly decent right foot. He really came into his own when he partnered Sol Campbell in the 2003/4 season, personally I remember his outstanding performance in the Charity Shield that year, it set the tone for a brilliant season. Campbell was the big strong organiser, while Kolo mopped up the bits, it was a fantastic partnership and mix of abilities.

There have been many great moments since, the nearly Champions League final, the nearly League titles, an FA Cup and much much more than can be put down in words and numbers. He gave away the penalty that saw Liverpool knock us out of the Champions League at Anfield, Kolo was conned by the cheating Babel, how close King Kolo came to bringing the biggest Club trophy of all back home.

The Kolo Toure that we have seen in recent months has not been the Kolo Toure I wish to remember, he has been a shadow of his former self, injuries have certainly not helped, a falling out with William Gallas also played its part, he has looked overweight and unusually cumbersome, slow on the turn and indecisive, most definitely not the Kolo of old. He is now 28 and appears to be well down the pecking order of centre backs at the club, so who can blame him for wanting first team football and a decent pay packet as part of his last big contract.

As it now looks like you're on the verge of joining City I'd like to say a big thanks for the memories King Kolo, you have served the club with great commitment and unparalleled enthusiasm. I will always remember you as that young winger who flew into tackles as if there was no tomorrow, there was always a smile on your face, that's why you got away with yellow cards when the tackles merited reds, it was obvious to even the referee that you are a lovely genuine chap. Thanks and good luck King Kolo.


K man said...

Extremely well said. All the best to a lovely bloke and true Gooner. Of all the expensive signings, Kolo deserves his City pay packet the most.

Sadly Kolo has not been the same since his malaria and a fee of around £15mn is good value for us too. It will be interesting to see whether Wenger sticks with his hand or twists with a new centre back - I'd go for Hangeland.

Anonymous said...

Hangeland? Come on, he is slower than Senderos and also probably at his peak or even past his prime. Paying 15 mils for him would be even more absurd than Citeh paying 16 mils for Toure.

Obsinho said...

Thanks kolo and enjoy the money.

I do have a rising sense of unease however. We needed more experience in the squad, and so far wenger is shipping out experience by the African shipload. I think the sales, eboue included if it happens for £8m, are at the right prices and make commercial sense.

But unless a good amount is reinvested quickly, I think it sets us back again in footballing terms. Individually the leavers will not effect us like losing the Flam did, but collectively theymay do.

We still need an experinced head in the middle to share the load with cesc a d teach song/denilson/diaby. I now don't think wenger will add him - a potentially critical mistake. We now have the money to sign quality, please god don't do last season all over again....

1979gooner said...

Hangeland is no better than big Phil, arguably worse.

We now have Gallas-Vermaelen first choice.

Djourou is a very capable third choice, he was better than kolo last year, arguably when Gallas and Djourou had a run in the side before Djourou got injured we looked at our most solid defensively.

If Phil stays then that's a decent number of centre backs, as we also have Silvestre as fifth choice.

We have the numbers in the squad, I just don't think the balance is right in terms of defensive minded players.

Who knows what Arsene has up his sleeve if anything.

What is clear is the fact that Song, Diaby, Denilson, Ramsey etc are all a year stronger and more experienced, plus we have the likes of Lansbury, Frimpong, Coquelin to emerge in the next couple of years.

With that number of young players who can play in the middle and at centre back, I would say that any new signings should see the departure of some of the current crop.

Players like Senderos, Diaby, etc are running out of time and if they don't do much this year should me moved on.

Ted said...

Not happy at all about Kolo leaving. This is a mistake.

Gallas/Vermaelen/Djourou/Senderos looks enough players on paper. Plus Sylvestre if we get proper desperate.

I also hear that Vermaelen is a left booter, so will allow Gallas to play his favoured right-hand side. And that was the death knell for Kolo.

Hangeland can fuck his lanky arse off.

marcus said...

Great tribute to Kolo. Unlike Ade, he will be given a rousing welcome when City come to the Grove. Apparently Kolo hasn't shown interest in extending his contract. So AW may think why not profit from him now, when he’s in decline, instead of letting him go on a free next summer? He hasn't been the same since returning from the ACN in Feb. of 08, the malaria just added to his decline. He did put in a transfer request in January. That may not only have been due to problems with Gallas but because of the large sum of money City offered him. And hasn’t it occurred to anyone that Arsene Wenger–a manager who is very attentive to statistics in judging player performances–has seen over the last 2 seasons that Kolo’s stats may show he is in real decline and won’t get any better? Skysports last night listed Kolo’s stats from 08-09 in aerial duels, clearances, attempted tackles — and they were not very good. His only good stat was his passing (over 83%). And even in that he was trumped by the older and equally declining John Terry (90%). That said, why the hell does AW keep Silvestre? Surely Silvestre’s stats are even worse? Interesting that AW is willing to keep Gallas one more season before he can leave on a free. That may indicate that Gallas’ stats are actually better than Kolo’s, even tho he’s older. Kolo also never showed any leadership abilities, nor any ability in organizing our defense the way Gallas does. AW may be giving Kolo an opportunity to earn big money in an exciting new project before he goes further into decline. I'll miss him very much, tho, he's one of the very few true gunners left. And I do worry about relying on Vermaelen too much as a starter, and not giving him more time to adjust to England.

1979gooner said...


would arsenal have offered him a new contract?

seems to me as if they would have done last summer if they had been really keen to keep him?

KG said...

Silvestre is not a first team and happy to be a bit part player/backup behind Sanderos -- also his wages MAY NOT be as high as Kolo; thts y AW has kept him.

overall a mixed feeling about Kolo's transfer -- last of the invincibles, last player to win a trophy with Arsenal.*sigh*. Very nice article though :P.

Who will pass on the traditions of the club to the new joinees -- previous teams had DB10,Keown,Parlor etc. to pass on the club legacy -- now who?

Uncle Mike said...

This is very odd, a player leaving Arsenal and not getting ripped by the fans. (See: Hleb, Flamini, Adebayor, and a player I'll simply call Cashley.)

Whether Kolo has anything left, he could be the other half of the saying that Adebayor proved, a saying that comes from baseball but is true in all sports: It's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late.

So even if the 25M from Adebayor is gone, used to pay for things like a certain diminutive but competitively large Russian beast, that leaves 16M from selling Kolo to Man-are-you-guys-overpaying City.

I don't know what central midfielders are available, but Le Boss needs to bring a quality one in, unless somebody already in-house has grown up in a hurry.

Obsinho said...

I've watched a lot of the pre-seasons so far, and the midfield is a conundrum at the moment. Wenger is giving song and denilson time in the middle, and at the moment song is clearly more comfortable there. Trouble is wenger has also given song a lot of time as CB as well, where I think he looks less exposed as the game is always ahead of him - recovery speed isn't his strength, brute force is.

Thing is, wenger is also giving a lot of time to senderos as a DM. We know this will never happen in a real game, so why do it? To be optimistic, maybe wenger knows he needs to bring someone in to play there so big phil can plug the gap till he arrives. Or, maybe Big Phil's stock is so low he simply can't get a game at the back.

Either way, I think we look a player or two light still.

Ted said...

get ready for mass panic. Adebayor, Toure and Eboue all leaving will have the doomsters out in force...

I still maintain that Arsenal are unlikely to splash the cash. Especially on a centre forward.

1979gooner said...

I agree ted.

We need a solid midfielder for the squad,

a cross between Vieira, Parlour and Petit would be nice.

Obsinho said...

To be honest I am feeling the doom as well. We knew last season that the midfield was not good enough, and more than likely we'll do nothing about it.

IF (given the time it is still a BIG if) we do nothing, then not onl has Wenger made his life tricky by not spending money we know he has, but I think he may have drafted his own P45 if we're out of the title by Xmas.

The noise from fans, press and elements of the board will be deafening. As much as I kept trusting him last year, I do think that if we do not pick up a quality midfielder at the price they cost I will have lost faith before the season even starts.

Ted said...

obsinho leading the doomster charge? what a surprise....

rosicky coming back means that wenger does not have to buy a midfielder. We also have to find positions for Theo and Arshavin.

the only position we look light of cover is now right-back and i would be amazed if we don't have someone who could fill in at the club if sagna got injured.

Wenger will not spend the money because the right player is not available at the right price.

if we signed diaby or denilson tomorrow for £25m then we would wet ourselves with excitement.

Ted said...

p.s. obsinho - i think you must win an award for raising the "wenger out" issue in july, before the season even kicks off, and on the day that we sell Eboue for £9m.

we should be celebrating !!