Exclusive Interview: Philippe Auclair Talks Arsenal (Part 2)
Gooner Talk have managed to carry out an exclusive interview featuring one of France’s most passionate and talented football journalists – Philippe Auclair.
In his homecountry, Auclair is renowned for his work in the music industry where his name – Louis Philippe – was associated with the short-lived, but very influential ‘él record label’; since this label’s demise (1989), he has grown into one of the ‘elder statesmen’ of indiepop.
Philippe – who is a hardcore Gooner himself – works for RMCinfo, arguably the biggest radio station in France. He’s also a regular contributor to FranceFootball where he posts a daily blog on all things footy, definitely one to read.
Our British readers may be more familiar with Auclair’s work on Setanta Sports News as their French football analyst, as well as popular radio stations TalkSPORT radio & BBC Scotland.
The concluding part of the interview includes:
- Philippe’s opinions on the latest young crop of Arsenal talent coming up through the ranks.
- His views on why Michel Platini made a ‘personal attack’ against Gunners boss Arsene Wenger via the French media.
- What Philippe thinks about the squad in terms of experience and quality of football.
- Arsenal’s chances of winning silverware this season and if so, what trophy are we most likely to claim.
Togolese frontman Emmanuel Adebayor went close to departing from north London this summer after demanding a ‘double-your-money’ pay-rise. Ade subsequently got that and committed to Arsenal for the time being. Is there a feeling from your perspective that Manu is only at the club for the money? or do you feel his agent was to blame for the summer-fiasco?
I don’t think Ade ever wanted to leave Arsenal. Nor am I convinced thatMilan or Neverland FC wanted to pay £40m for him. I think that Ade was not necessarily well-advised (cf. definition of ‘understatement’ in the OED). But I also know that, goal for goal, he was the worse-paid striker in the Premiership. ‘Worse-paid’ is of course relative.
UEFA President Michel Platini made some strange remarks about Arsene Wenger recently, criticising the Frenchman’s ‘youth policy’. What’s your take on Platini’s comments and could you try to explain exactly why
Platini said them?
See above (part 1). I have developed platinophobia. He gives me the mental equivalent of nappy rash. He’s a very intelligent, very sincere and very wealthy man. He can also talk absolute nonsense, and has done little else since being elected. The Euro has just been expanded to 24 nations. How ridiculous is that? And he’s complaining about Arsene being obsessed by business? (CENSORED)
Arsenal’s young Guns have been magnificent so far this season, a superb win over Sheffield United – unbelievably, the average age of that team was 18 years old! Who do you believe, out of the current crop of young talent (under 18), will ‘make it’ at the club?
Correction! The squad was an average 18 years and 6 months old, the starting eleven 19. Wilshere is, of course, phenomenal. Even Steve McLaren or Sam Allardyce would see that. I’d seen him in a couple of reserve games last year, but what really made me go “…..” (gasp) was his performance against Real Madrid at the Emirates Cup, and that big bang moment with Salgado, who is one tough customer. I was expecting the stretcher to be brought on. But young Jack got up before Salgado! What a statement! His balance is magnificent (low centre of gravity helps, of course); he reads the game astonishingly well for one so young, and knows when to go for the simple sideways pass. He drives the ball forward a bit like Joe Cole: the shoe is like a glove, the foot like a hand. Never does he look downwards. There’s something of Rooney in him too. This ‘don’t mess with me’ look – I love it.
I also think he could play wherever he wants to: left-back, left-side midfielder, inside-left or right, striker. I have no doubt whatsoever that he’s the greatest natural talent we’ve had on this island since Rooney, precisely. The others? Ramsey looks very, very promising, but will have to learn to take fewer touches. Randall was magnificent against Sheffield: positioning, tackling, distribution, he had an almost perfect game, which I don’t think most people realised at the time. Fabianski looks the business in goal, and Gibbs has huge potential, provided he doesn’t rely too much on his speed to re-position himself; Clichy had a similar ‘problem’, but has overcome it. Simpson will make a fine pro, but maybe not at Arsenal. All in all, a tremendous crop of youngsters, by far the best in the country.
Finally, most journalists have already written Arsenal off as title
contenders, dismissing the Gunners’ chances of claiming any silverware at
all. In your opinion, what competition will Arsenal acheive in, and will
they keep up an adequate level of consistency in any of the 4 trophies to
possibly win them?
I can see Arsenal going far in the Champions League; we now look like naturals in this competition – provided we do not encounter other English clubs in the quarters. In the Premiership, I’m not so sure. We really could have done with an Alonso, a Barry, a Yaya Toure or a Frings, despite Denilson’s and Song’s progression. I also think that Djourou should be given a chance at centre-half, and regret that Senderos – a natural defender, whatever people may say of him – was loaned out when his grit, height and sense of danger could have been of great help in some tricky trips away from home.
Many thanks to Philippe for agreeing to take part in this interview. We remind all visitors of Gooner Talk that you can listen to Messrs Auclair on RMCinfo of 21(GMT) until midnight. You can also read his remarkable articles on FranceFootball dealing with the Premier League and English football in general.
If by any chance you missed part 1 of the interview, click here to view it.
Stay tuned to Gooner Talk for more interviews with some of the most knowledgable Gooners around the world!