Arsenal players have branded sacked skipper William Gallas as "Big Gob". The Mail on Sunday says the whole demeanour of Gallas worried several players who viewed him as an unsuitable leader. For example, Gallas was in charge of enforcing fines for players who were late for meetings.
However, the rule was undermined by the fact that one of the principal offenders was the enforcer himself. Gallas became aware that it irked the younger players, but direct confrontation was suppressed until Robin van Persie, the subject of one of the Gallas attacks on his team-mates last week, attempted to exercise some leadership during half-time at last month's 4-4 draw against Tottenham, the match that precipitated the early-season crisis.
With the game at 1-1, Van Persie criticised Theo Walcott, apparently for being too selfish. Though heated, it was a fairly routine exchange of views, common enough at half-time in most dressing rooms and typical of what one might expect from a 25-year-old talking to a 19-year-old colleague.
However, the situation escalated when Gallas intervened and insisted "we resolve these problems after the game and not during the break". Van Persie objected, as the problem needed to be corrected for the second half. The Dutchman and Walcott have since sorted out their differences, which were never grave, and both played excellently in the second half of that game and were withdrawn at 4-2 with the game seemingly won.
But for Gallas it appears the incident lingered and the perceived affront grew in his own mind, culminating in the outburst to a French news agency last week, in which he identified a player who is six years younger than him as the source of the trouble in the dressing room. Gallas is 31, Van Persie 25.