Manchester City's Gael Clichy developed into a world-class left back during his time at Arsenal, so it has been a bit unexpected for him to see the club struggle in the transfer market this summer.
The 28-year-old spent eight years at Arsenal and was part of the last Arsenal teams to win trophies at the club, as he captured the Premier League title in the 2003-2004 season along with a FA Cup in 2005.
While he still thinks highly of Arsene Wenger, he is focused on his current challenge in Manchester with the Blues. The club had a disappointing turn last season and brought in a new manager in Manuel Pellegrini this summer.
During his PUMA campaign to promote the new Evo Speed 1.2 boot, Clichy spoke with Goal about Arsenal's current struggles, Pellegrini and his ambitions for City this year.
[Editor's note: Responses have been edited for length purposes]
Goal: Gael, having played at Arsenal for eight seasons, are you a bit surprised at team's inability to sign new players and its recent struggles?
Clichy: I’m a bit surprised. Arsenal is a great club and I can’t see why [the team is struggling to sign players]. I remember when they came in for me, I was a young player and I was really excited to play for a team like this.
Arsenal is one of the greatest clubs of the world. So I am surprised that no one has come to the club. I’m not worried, because Arsene Wenger is a great manager and he’s shown over the past 10-15 years that he can perform with what he has and young talented players. It’s probably the only club that’s been in the Champions League for the past 10-15 years. Every year, they reach the quarterfinals.
I can’t say much about Arsenal, because I don’t play there anymore. All I can say is that Wenger knows what he’s doing. He’s going to show everyone [that]. It was the same last year and the year before. When Thierry Henry left, everyone was a bit worried and life went on. He’s a great manager and he always finds a solution. I’m not worried.
The UK media says that Arsene has lost his touch, do you agree with that at all?
I don’t think so. I’m totally disagreeing with that. He’s been the same for the last few years. Football is like this. When things aren’t going the way that the public opinion wants, then people start to talk. You can’t say that someone who knows so much about English football has lost his touch.
Speaking about managers, you have a new one in Manuel Pellegrini. What are your thoughts on him and how is he different from your previous managers in Roberto Mancini and Wenger?
I’ve been lucky my whole career. With Arsene Wenger, he wanted us to play attractive football. Roberto Mancini, even though it was sometimes difficult, we won the title and had a good team with a good style of football, scoring goals. Pelligrini is the same style of manager.
He likes to play attractive, offensive football. He likes to play a high line to put pressure on the opponent. It’s never easy but hopefully we can keep doing that and with the players we have, we can have a good season.
How is he different in a sense of personalty?
You only judge a manager at the end of the year when you see if he is taking his team to the next level. Outside of football, he’s a great guy. He’s super smart. You can tell that he is thinking a lot every session that we are doing during the week. He wants us to do as good as possible against the team we are going to play against.
Again, you will only judge a character of the guy at the end of the season when the team has won something or not.
What are your personal expectations for this year?
Well it's always about the team. Hopefully, I can play as many games as I’d like to play and of course winning things is the main objective of the club. We want to get the title back and have a good run in the Champions League and why not even try to win it. We have the players and the personnel to do it. It’s not going to be easy because there are some really good teams in the competition but we want to go for it.
Speaking about your first title with the club, Chelsea's Jose Mourinho made some interesting comments saying that neither your team or Manchester United were great champions. What are your thoughts on that?
A champion is a champion. A great champion, a fantastic champion or a bad one, doesn’t change anything. You’re still a champion.
What we know is that we worked hard and that’s it. Hopefully the team will win at the end of the season. It all comes down to opinion. All I can say is that we worked hard that whole year, scoring a lot of goals and we had the fewest goals in the season so whatever.
We were the champions and we’re looking to get back to it.