Misguided, confused, a loner, disloyal, a drifter, not a team player, Nicolas Anelka has been called all these things and far worse. In a peculiar career that taken in PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man City, Fenerbahce, Bolton, Chelsea, Shanghai, Juventus and now WBA, Anelka’s total transfer fees have reached nearly £ 90 million. Despite a close challenge from Joey Barton, Anelka probably holds the career record for most transfer requests.
His first appearance on these shores as an inspired Arsene Wenger signing at a snip of £ 500,000 saw him become Arsenal’s top scorer and the PFA Young Player of the Year. For most young strikers this would guarantee hero status, but within a year, transfer speculation and a perceived lack of enthusiasm from the player had the Arsenal fans giving him the nickname “Le Sulk.”
Rather than stay and work through this, Anelka agitated to leave Arsenal, claiming the British press was responsible for his unhappiness in England and joined Real Madrid for £22.3 million.
At Madrid Anelka started well, but soon fell out of favour with fans, fellow players, and new coach Vicente del Bosque, at one point receiving a 45-day suspension for refusing to train. Despite scoring vital goals in both legs of the Champions League semi-finals against Bayern Munich as the galaticos won the trophy, Anelka only stayed a year before ” going home ” to PSG.
Even in Paris things were not straightforward as Anelka developed issues with the team coach, Luis Fernandez, so he was offloaded to Liverpool on loan.
Despite the sympathetic fellow Frenchman Gerard Houllier as manager, Liverpool decided not to take him on as a permanent signing so he was picked up by Manchester City. Playing as the main striker for City in 2002 was not quite the same as it is now, and it seemed as if Anelka’s time amongst the mega rich clubs had come to an end.
Bizarrely, six years later after a fairly impressive spell at Bolton, Chelsea picked up Anelka. His spell at Stamford Bridge, like most of his career is frequently described as ” mixed “. In the 2008 Champions League Final, Anelka delivered Chelsea’s seventh penalty, which was saved by Edwin van der Sar, resulting in United winning. Anelka later blamed manager Avram Grant for this claiming Grant brought him on to play as a late substitute without a proper warm up beforehand and too late in the game to acclimatize himself to it.
Anelka had a starring role in the Andre Villas Boas Chelsea debacle as one of those senior players who helped to undermine the young manager. Anelka had submitted a transfer request and Villas Boas responded by banning him from using the first-team car park, forcing him to use separate changing rooms and train with the youth team.
Soon after arriving in China Anelka was involved in a heated exchange with a fan for refusing to bow in front of the travelling Shenhua fans with his fellow team-mates.
As Shanghai Shenhua realised they had overextended themselves by spending millions on the wages of a bunch of players who were well past their peak, they offloaded Anelka for free to West Brom.
Last summer Anelka reportedly walked out of a training session telling staff that he was leaving the club to retire although it was later stated he was given time off on compassionate grounds following the death of his agent. Its a fair bet that he wishes he had retired now.
As a goal celebration Anelka performed a quenelle, a hand gesture popularized by his comedian friend Dieudonné and described by Jewish groups as an inverted Nazi salute. The FA investigated the incident following allegations of anti-Semitism and banned Anelka for five matches, fined him £80,000 and ordered him to complete an educational course. The hearing also stated “…we did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle.”
The quenelle incident has brought widespread condemnation from all quarters together with some fairly amateur attempts at psychoanalysis to try and find out what goes on inside Nicolas Anelka’s head.
How to explain all of this ? Simple, in just one word – Pisces.
The Piscean is a strange phenomena in astrology and certainly the most misunderstood of all the signs. Pisces is a Water sign but also Mutable, fluidity and movement are the name of the game here, consistency definitely not.
It is the last sign of the Zodiac and its role is to receive all the experience accumulated by the other 11 signs and to disperse it in order to allow a new cycle to begin again in Aries. Pisceans are sensitive impressionable creatures that need to retreat every so often because they pick up so many emotional nuances from any situation that it is impossible for them to hold them all, so like water they move on swiftly adapting to a new situation.
The Piscean character is more suited to the Arts than to football and its particularly one that seems out of step with football fans who for reasons best known to themselves seem to expect loyalty to the badge from the millionaire mercenaries that are performing for the particular multi national corporation that they profess to support.
They do not understand that players like Anelka are performing an essential astrological service to mankind by sodding off to another club without batting an eyelid. But of course understanding one’s place in the universal scheme of things is not high on the agenda of the average football fan. And anyway Nicolas Anelka is no ordinary Pisces.
No time is available but a noon chart gives us enough information to go on. The most important points in a footballers chart are the Sun and Mars and Anelka has both in Pisces. What’s more both of them make seriously difficult oppositions for anyone expecting long term stability or loyalty.
Anelka’s Sun is opposite his Moon, an aspect that is unlikely to bring Anelka much sympathy or support in life. The Moon rules the responses of other people and the environment in general, so its opposition to the Sun means that the person will frequently find themselves in unsupportive situations. As both the Sun and Moon are in Mutable signs the simplest response to this is to move on.
But this general lack of sympathy is seriously compounded by Mars’ opposition to Saturn. These two planets are opposites, Mars wants to act, Saturn wants to hold back and frustrate. The two planets together are frequently interpreted as trying to drive a car with one foot on the accelerator and another on the brake. In the case of the opposition, its as if someone else permanently has their foot on the brake.
Many people believe that Anelka’s inner attitude brings all his problems onto himself, but from his perspective with this opposition, the world is seriously stacked against him. This is a view he lives with and indeed expresses from time to time, which merely compounds the problem, particularly for the average football fan who cannot conceive how someone born with such outrageous skills and who has earned such a vast fortune doing what they love could feel so disadvantaged.
This is how a Mars / Saturn opposition works, it becomes a vicious circle. The response to Saturn’s restraint is to press forward harder which draws more trouble etc.
Anelka’s Sun / Moon opposition and the tension that it creates focuses by T Square onto an apex Neptune and this is where the trouble really converges. Neptune is the ruler of Pisces, the planet of spirituality. In the hands of someone like Sri Chaitanya the 16th century Indian mystic and incarnation of the God Krishna, the Sun in Pisces opposite Moon in Virgo T square to Neptune would be the experience of transcendence and expression of universal compassion but even Anelka’s brother who masterminded his transfer from Arsenal to Madrid would not believe the striker to be functioning quite on this level.
This is one of the problems with astrological symbols, they do not stick to one specific thing but rather identify with a range of experience. This is particularly the case when it comes to Neptune and religion. Religion is not one thing that applies in the same way to everyone, it entirely depends on what level the person concerned is functioning on. It could be level 9 like the Dalai Lama whose insights and compassion in the face of the suppression of his people is limitless or it could be level 1 of the suicide bomber who is prepared to kill themselves and anyone else in order to achieve martyrdom and a specific number of virgins attention in the next life, or it could be anywhere in between.
Its a fair bet that whilst Anelka might be operating at level 8 as a sportsman, he is probably stuck around 2 or 3 in the area of religion. Bizarrely he has managed to arrange things so that he will be remembered for the quenelle, an act that comes from the relegation zone of spirituality rather than his goalscoring exploits for the world’s biggest clubs. But that’s the result of having an apex Neptune for you.
Anelka is definitely more Piscean than most, but it is interesting to look at other footballers with the Sun in this sign. They are often outrageously skilful but in an unpredictable way that can also frustrate because of a lack of consistency or some other feature that seems to unsettle people. Some interesting examples that spring to mind are Fernando Torres, Emmanuel Adebayor, Pepe, Edgar Davids and Didier Drogba. All were truly great players but often the side issues have created entertainment and attention that had an undermining effect. All of them would claim to be misunderstood.
Try the Pisces test with your own team, it would be interesting to see who comes up and at least it will help you come to understand their little foibles.
The whole Quenelle affair has brought anti semitism onto the back pages and of course we would all agree that it has no place in football, although anyone who has attended an away Spurs game over the last 40 years might have evidence of their own.
Perhaps it would be interesting debate to ask whether Pisceans have a place in the game or whether we need to adjust our expectations to make allowances for them.