Gallas admits the folly of his Birmingham tantrum

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The Independent Football

The Arsenal captain William Gallas admitted for the first time yesterday that his bizarre behaviour on the pitch last season had been a "mistake". The Frenchman confessed in an interview that he had not always conducted himself as might have been expected having been the surprise choice to succeed Thierry Henry as captain last season.

Most notably, Gallas, 30, kicked an advertising hoarding when he was judged to have fouled Stuart Parnaby for the penalty that gave Birmingham City an equaliser in the game at St Andrew's in February. The Arsenal captain did not line up on the edge of the box for James McFadden's spot-kick, instead he stood on the halfway line. At the end of the game he refused to get up from the turf and go into the changing rooms until Arsène Wenger told him to do so.

Gallas said: "You know I learned a lot, you want to be the best captain, give good advice to your players, but sometimes you can make mistakes as well so I think this season I know what I'm going to do and I know I am ready to change my way to speak to the players."

It was not exactly the most complete confession from the player, who has thus far refused to take any blame for his behaviour in that game – in which Eduardo da Silva's leg was broken and Arsenal's title challenge began to fall apart – but it does at least represent some progress. Gallas made no promises on behalf of the new generation of Arsenal players that they would be able to mount a credible challenge this season.

"They [the Arsenal squad] are young," he told Arsenal TV. "They are very shy but it won't be difficult for them to settle in, the squad is fantastic, the atmosphere is very good so I think it will be fine for them. We have to win something because the trophies are more important at the end of the season. Everybody knows what they have to do, we are ready."

Last night Arsenal were at least showing some promise, leading a Burgenland XI, 7-0 at half-time in a friendly in Austria with four goals from Nicklas Bendtner, two from Carlos Vela and another from Aaron Ramsey. In the meantime, Cesc Fabregas said that he had no intention of pledging his long-term future to Real Madrid. "I am happy here at Arsenal, my future is with Arsenal and the priority is to achieve success and win trophies at Arsenal," he said.

Midfielder Tomas Rosicky became one of the few Arsenal players to say he was not concerned about the side being uncompetitive next season. Rosicky said: "It is something similar to last season, when everybody wrote us off. Now, it will be the same. Some players have left but I trust the coach over this. He knows what he is doing."

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