The Monday Profile: Pascal Chimbonda
A look at the list of players that have decided to procure the services of Willie McKay as an agent makes interesting reading. Few from a roster that includes Henri Camara, Joey Barton, Amdy Faye and Charles N’Zogbia have been shy of entering into contract disputes and the subject of today’s study, Pascal Chimbonda is no exception – the Guadeloupe born defender having joined Doncaster Rovers on Friday.Cast your mind back to the final game of the 2005-6 season – a campaign that saw Chimbonda start 44 games for Wigan Athletic, secure the right back berth in the PFA Team of the Year and grace a League Cup final against Manchester United. In the words of McKay, the Frenchman panicked, handing in a transfer request with sweat still glistening on his forehead and mudcakes trapped in the gaps between his studs. Perhaps mindful of an upcoming World Cup campaign that would see him make one appearance in a warm up match agianst Denmark, Chimbonda (according to Latics’ Head of Communication Mark McCann) “unzipped his bag, took the note out and handed it to the manager” – one Paul Jewell and one highly astonished Paul Jewell at that.
As McKay later said on the completion of his player’s subsequent move to Tottenham Hotspur for £4.5 million – “Wigan? They should give me the freedom of the place given the profit they made” and it’s true there was no way back – a Summer of shenanigans almost saw Chimbonda sign for West Ham before he opted to join Spurs instead.
That one thrilling season was to prove a false dawn despite occasional high points at the Lane, and another League Cup Final appearance saw him react petulantly to being substituted on one of Tottenham’s greatest days. That led him to being shipped off to Sunderland along with team mates Steed Malbranque and Teemu Tainio, only to return after failing to settle in the North East; his wife having failed to accompany him north.
His second spell at Spurs saw him feature little and his next stop would be Blackburn – a pattern developing that would see him waste his best years in half-baked roles for clubs attempting to cling desperately to their perpetually at risk Premier League status. All the while, it can be presumed that McKay was growing fat from the proceeds.
So loyalty is hardly a watchword in the Chimbonda household, even if an early incident at Bastia that saw him racially abused and “roughed up” by his own Corsican fans in the club car park may excuse his hard shell of individualism. Still, there will be some Doncaster fans who welcome his arrival, even if another rumoured move – that for the even more mistrusted El Hadji Diouf – seems to have fallen through.
For superficially, Dean Saunders’ arrival appears to have ignited a change of fortunes at the Keepmoat. Looking dead and buried a fortnight ago, two wins have been gleaned and it’s now poor Keith Millen who has suffered for his club’s occupancy of the basement slot. Chimbonda didn’t make the 16 against Peterborough on Saturday and his match fitness has taken its time to reach acceptable levels in the past.
In all, however, Chimbonda’s arrival and the suggestion that money is now there that had been denied to Sean O’Driscoll raise a whole lotta questions – and these were highlighted by an aghast Glen Wilson in one of this year’s best blog posts last Thursday – sadly, a 10-15 year period that has seen Doncaster become everyone’s second favourite club now appears to be drawing to a close.