Monday, 11 February 2013

Andrè Santos - Why The Hate?

Today has been a good day for us as we've been able to move on a player that it surplus to requirements, admittedly only on a loan until the end of the season. The trouble is, I just don't get the level of hatred directed his way. I understand that his shirt swapping was bang out of order and his performance at Old Trafford left a lot to be desired but he wasn't the only one was he? Despite what many fans may think or should I say choose to ignore, is he actually strengthened our squad at a time when were completely flat but I'm going to look at his brief spell at Arsenal.

The Beginning

Off the back of our disastrous 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford the club decided to offload Armand Traore, who's finest action as an Arsenal man came when he walked down Seven Sisters road carrying a knuckleduster. He was shipped to QPR without a moments hesitation and then word starts to spread that we are in for a Brazlian left back from Fenerbahçe, with only Kieran Gibbs the only other left back it looked like we had some competition on our hands. What could go wrong?

It didn't take our new number eleven long to get the supporters on his side. A good overlapping run down the left, a nice pass to Chamakh, which he unsurprisingly didn't score with and the ball ricocheted to Santos, who cut took the ball from the byline, cut back on his right foot and slotted home. Santos only went on to score another two goals for us but they weren't exactly token gestures either, both were crucial equalisers. The first was at Stamford Bridge following fantastic play by Song, Santos kept his composure and slotted home to make it 2-2 and as we all know we went on to win 5-3 that day. His last goal also carried much more importance but more about that later.

The Injury

Due to another set back for Gibbs we found ourselves in a situation where Santos had to play in dead rubber game Champions League game in Greece. Now, if you can, take yourself back to that night and remember your reaction to the team news. We only had one left first team left back fit and he was selected, despite a later reliance on Miquel and Vermaelen at left back. Our worst nightmares were realised and Santos picked up an injury and he was to miss three months. To say twitter was in meltdown was an understatement, how could Wenger be so reckless in his team selection? Nothing was at stake other than a couple of hundred thousand for winning a game. Yet the injury to Santos was a massive blow and a poor run in January seemed to further reinforce the need for a recognised left back.

The Villain

The Emirates seems to crave the need to have a villain amongst our side. I did want to use the term pantomime villain but in truth the level of abuse makes it more serious than just a bit of banter. By the end of Santos' time at Arsenal he had displaced Ramsey at the top of the boo boys most wanted list. Now during his three month spell on the sidelines, we had the Arshavin incident against Manchester United at home. The Emirates was awash with fury and within two weeks the diminutive Russian made his way back to Zenit on loan. After his departure our home crowd had a new lease of life, the realisation of the effect sixty thousand fans can have had finally hit home. We had superb atmospheres in wins at home against Sp*rs, Milan and Newcastle. No preconceptions about any of the side, just a united support and not the murmurings of discontent we can often fall foul of. The point being that as fans seem to be easing off the back of Aaron Ramsey, there is no Santos or Chamakh. Will we see a return of such partisan support or will we have to identify a new player to tear strips off? We certainly have the opportunity to start in a positive way when we face Bayern Munich next week.

The Highlight

It is often forgotten that Santos started our biggest game of the season ahead of Keiran Gibbs. A win at West Brom secured automatic Champions League football. Santos got us level fifteen minutes after we fell behind, thanks to a decent strike from distance. Whatever you may think of the guy (no Santos like typo) he helped us achieve our goal last season and he made a massive contribution in that fixture, unlike many wasters that have at the club.

The Beginning of the End.

Well the RVP shirt swapping incident certainly caused a lot of commotion. I was at the game that day and I wasn't paying attention after the half time had blown and I had to rely on a text from a mate but I couldn't quite believe it had happened. Now having allowed a lot of time for the dust to settle, are we going to allow instances like this to define a players career at our club? Take the two players out of the equation for second (I know it's difficult) it's hardly the end of the world is it? However, I think once our support has made it's mind up there is no turning back, See the cases Adebayor, Eboue, Chamakh for further reinforcements on that viewpoint. Every mistake seems twice as bad and you can feel some of the crowd itching to pounce on every mistake. How does a player recover from that if he isn't given any room to manoeuvre?

The truth is Santos is nowhere near as bad as he has been portrayed by some sections of our support and nor was he good enough for our side but then there's a long list of players that haven't cut the mustard. This is a player who could have easily been given the nod at the start of the season, as the contest between him and Gibbs was extremely close to call. In fact I thought Santos would have edged it based on him being better going forward. He was suspect at defending but Gibbs isn't exactly solid as a rock but now we have Monreal to pin our hopes on. The fact is when it comes to Santos he benefited from prolonged spells in the first team, he always improved after a run of games, mainly because he seemed to look a bit trimmer more than anything else. Santos wasn't exactly afforded time like many others in the past and I just hope that we don't turn on other players that could go onto prove themselves and we couldn't just stick by them through the lows of a football career.


  1. so in your defense of the LB santos you havent said one positive thing about his defending just mention of the goals he scored...fact is his primary role was as a defender and he wasnt very good at it going forward he was decent yes ....i think wenger deserves some of the blame for putting him in the firing line knowing he wasnt a great defender now hes shipping him out a season and a half later

    1. He wasn't a good defender, it's that simple and he'll never be good enough for us due to his age. I just don't feel the need to hate like others. He still made a difference, at times.

    2. true we took it a bit far with the twitter rage

    3. That transfers to games as well. He took dogs abuse when he came on against Liverpool. That's really going to help isn't it.

  2. Imagine it another way - what if Jack Wilshere had swapped shirts with Chopsie at halftime?

    Alternatively, if you buy the "Brazilians always do the halftime shirt swap" (helpful hint - its true), what if Gilberto Silva had done it? (struggling to come up with a well-liked Brazilian at Arsenal more recent than Gilberto)

  3. You know exactly what route would have been taken if Jack had have done it. If that is true maybe Steve Walsh could have claimed to be Brazilian after he asked for Bergkamp's shirt at Highbury.

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