21 March 2014

Gibbs: We owe our careers to Arsène

The love-in around Arsène's 1,000th game as Arsenal manager continues, with Kieran Gibbs now extolling the manager's virtues. Speaking to Arsenal Player, Gibbs was effusive in his praise of the man who had brought him to Arsenal from Wimbledon in 2004. As a result, GIbbs has now become one of England's best left-backs, soon to overtake Ashley Cole while vying with Leighton Baines for the honor of representing the Three Lions. Along the way, he has probably already long since supplanted Cole in Gooners' hearts with his talent, his drive, and his dedication. While he may have developed along similar lines had he gone to some other club, he leaves little doubt in our minds as to who deserves credit for the pace of extent of his development to this point: Arsène.

Gibbs offered his tribute to the man:
He lets you learn for yourself before he tells you, which I thought was interesting. “When I first started playing in the team a good few years ago he didn’t give me too much advice. He let me learn for myself and then when he needed to speak to me you listen even more.He’s got a way of making you feel that you deserve to be there and he has a certain way of giving you confidence to play. He’s been very important and I think a lot of players will say the same. He’s been instrumental and has pretty much given the platform for mine and other players’ careers I think it’s fair to say that the players that have played under him have tried to give him everything.
It's striking to me though nothing new that another young Gunner pays homage to the manager who helped them to realize both the extent of their potential and provided them the means to hone that potential into performance. While other clubs have proven happy to prey on Arsenal, waiting for players to ripen on the vine in order to harvest them, it reminds me that the loyalty to the club that Arsène's approach inspires among players is hard to beat. Of course, there's no silverware involved in that relationship, which induces many a fan to dismiss it.

When it comes to the minting of legends, however, Arsène's approach may prove harder to beat in the long run. Will van Persie be remembered a decade from now by Man U fans? Will Fabregas inspire among the Barcelona faithful? Perhaps.Those players did, after all, help those clubs to win trophies. However, the players who understand how instrumental Arsène has been to their development may find themselves on a path to a different kind of glory. Should they lead Arsenal to silverware this year or in years to come, they will find themselves lionized and sainted and sung about through the ages.

We talk a fair amount about making superstars instead of buying them, and Gibbs, though he may not yet qualify as a superstar, is climbing in that direction. Just as important, he acknowledges Arsène as a catalyst in that climb—and I'm sure he'll be looking for ways to give back as much as he's gotten, whether it be on Saturday, the rest of the final run-in, or in seasons to come.