Why I Don’t Feel Bad For Philippe Senderos

Think back to to 2006… it was a good year for Philippe Senderos. The young centre-half, whom Arsene had signed way back in 2002 when he was a coveted prospect, started half of the club’s league matches and became a regular in central defense as Sol Campbell neared the end of the first part of his Arsenal career. He was an integral part of the club’s run to the Champions League Final by not conceding a goal throughout the entire group stage and knockout round while he was on the pitch.

That summer, Senderos helped Switzerland out of the World Cup Group Stage only to be benched for their second-round defeat to Ukraine. Senderos’s career at Arsenal looked to have a bright future, as he was rewarded with the number 6 shirt that summer. Senderos was even a leading candidate to be named captain, but then Ashley Cole left and Arsenal signed William Gallas in return.

Senderos found himself frozen out, starting only 6 of the club’s first 14 matches and only getting a run of games when Gallas went out injured in December. In 2007-08, it was much of the same, until the New Year. Senderos started 14 matches the rest of the way, with the club losing only one… the Champions League Quarterfinal second leg at Anfield, where a couple of glaring mistakes seemed to confirm, in the supporters’ minds, the image of Senderos as error-prone. But the club’s record with him on the pitch spoke for itself.

But Senderos has no one to blame for his current predicament but himself, and I surely don’t feel bad for him. He sealed his fate, after catching “big club fever,” by demanding the loan move to Milan in the summer of 2008. It was a difficult summer for Arsenal. First, Gilberto left for Greece, then Flamini and Hleb left to Milan and Barcelona, respectively. On the heels of those two stunning departures, Senderos announced that he had chosen to go to Milan on a year-long loan deal with an eye towards a permanent move. It was a career miscalculation of monumental proportions.

Senderos surely felt that he was not going to be able to crack the Gallas-Toure partnership. But that partnership never looked solid and a change in the central defensive structure was inevitable. It finally came this past summer when the Boss resigned to selling Kolo Toure. But where was Senderos when his golden opportunity had arrived? Just returning from a disappointing year in Milan, thanks to the “big club fever” that had infected, and left for dead, Flamini and Hleb.

Had Senderos not bullied his way to a loan move to Milan, where he played infrequently and with no distinction, he would have been the one to step into Kolo Toure’s spot. But, at that point, Senderos’s lack of loyalty meant that he was not even considered for the position as Wenger secured the signing of Thomas Vermaelen. Instead, Senderos now looks set for a loan to Everton after having been humiliatingly limited to two Carling Cup starts, as if his career had been turned back 5 years. All due to catching “big club fever.”