Date:Thursday August 21 2008
Mikael Silvestre has joined Arsenal. That is a solid fact, can't be denied. Debatable though is that whether this transfer was what the Gooners needed or that why Fergie let him go. However, I'm not in the mood to debate this now.
Especially not as the event itself, however unusual, is not very significant. He's the first player to be sold to Arsene Wenger by Sir Alex Ferguson but it would be a much bigger deal had he not missed the last year through injury and had he not been a pretty average defender anyway.
Don't get me wrong: Silvestre is a likeable lad, always giving his all in a United shirt. Lazyness, big-headedness are not among his faults. His faults are easy to see: it's not that he hasn't got the skill or the pace, it's his maddening proneness to injury that always prevented him being entirely accepted by Manchester United fans.
Whenever he was on the field, we knew that he would did quite well, keep his man relatively quiet and support the attacks satisfactorily. But we also dreaded that he would commit at least one atrocious mistake that would undo all his good work and lose us the game. He would slip in the crucial moment or pass the ball to the striker for no apparent reason - you get my meaning.
Therefore, as an unspectacular but error-prone player Silvestre had very few great games, a lot of solid games and quite an amount of disastrous ones. But after nine years of loyal service he deserves to be remembered for the great ones and I cite the greatest: the home against Liverpool in the autumn of 2004.
Liverpool as opponents must have been special for him, not jsut because he was a Manchester United player but because it was our beloved neighbours against whom he made his debut. However, hardly anyone mentioned this little trivia before that game. Reason was simple: that was the game when Rio Ferdinand made his return after his eight-month suspension.
And United, buoyed by a vociferous crowd, really set out to beat the hell out of the Scousers and started to attack from the whistle. Our attacking play warranted a goal early on and we got that, thanks to nobody else than Mikael Silvestre who headed home after a corner.
Liverpool managed to equalise with another defender of ours, John O'Shea putting the ball into his own net but United were not to be denied and our goalscoring hero stepped into the limelight once again: another set-piece, another goal for Silvestre.
Rest of the game saw United creating chances, Liverpool going forward without any real conviction and a solid defensive work from Silvestre. And that was it. I believe it was his only brace in a United shirt and the only time when he could stake his claim for being the hero of the day.
Oh, and by the way, you remember Silvestre's last game at the club? You surely do - he played a grand total of 3 minutes against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final, replacing the injured Patrice Evra. At least he left us on a high.
Date:Thursday August 21 2008
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