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Friday, November 21, 2008

Toure or Fabregas for captain

Out of trouble can come good solutions...

William Gallas has spoken out over various things that are making him unhappy at Arsenal. The fact that he has views about certain things at Arsenal is not problematic. However, by bringing the club into disrepute and publicly embarrasing Arsene Wenger who has consistently defended Gallas' captaincy, I think he was fundamentally wrong to have gone public in a detailed way about his concerns.

The allegation spreading across the net and news media is that Gallas has been stripped of the captaincy. I would support that sanction and hope it revives the value of the Arsenal captaincy which undoubteldly fell in image after Gallas' response to the sad draw at St Andrews back in February.

Gallas is not a natural leader. He is not calm and stern when faced with obstacles. He reacts with fire that often looks unsettling. He does not set a good outward example for his teammates to follow.

His public criticial outburst is another instance of extraordinary public behaviour that lets Gallas and the club down - and I would suggest two main candidates to replace him as captain.

The first is Kolo Toure. The only surviving regular starter of the invincibles - he has been a hugely committed player representing the Arsenal spirit in the best sense since his debut. I still remember his first TV interview after scoring at Stamford Bridge in one his first matches for Arsenal; he spoke with superb humility and demonstrated through his manner and choice of words a character of immense quality that made me think we have a special character to watch at Arsenal.

He hasn't let me down in this impression - most recently seen when as captain for the recent home match against Everton after damaging his shoulder in a bad fall. He got up and proceeded to play the next twenty minutes in apparent agony but a simultaneous desire to lay his body on the line for his teammates and the club. It was fantastic to see Kolo's spirit under strain; and it is this example combined with his experience that for me would make him an excellent choice as Arsenal captain.

The second is Cesc Fabregas. He is a winner in his play and in his character. When on the ball he is the most mature and composed footballer I have seen play for Arsenal (been watching since 1987). He demonstrates footballing intelligence on the pitch and maturity in his behaviour and interviews off the pitch. He is a fighter when the team is down. He is the 'go to' player when Arsenal are in possession - and has confidently assumed that position since his elevation to replacement of Patick Vieira as a precocious and level-headed 18 year old.

Fabregas has demonstrated his leadership qualities many times. In January 2007 at White Hart Lane in a Carling Cup semi-final first leg match, the home team had flown into a two goal lead against an extremely young Arsenal team and the Tottenham ground was rocking. Cesc Fabregas, at 19 years old, than took charge of the match. His performance was sensastional to watch as he drove his team to a second half comeback courtesy of two Baptista goals. It was a performance that convinced me that Fabregas had the winning character combined with influential quality to be a future Arsenal captain. I saw clearly that it was in his nature and character to be a fantastic leader. If Wenger was to honour him with the captaincy now it would be a very reasonable choice.

I'll be happy with either choice of Toure or Fabregas if it is indeed the case that Gallas will no longer lead the club. Personally I think either will bring a better representation to the captaincy than Gallas did. Lets wait and see what Wenger has in mind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

great article. I would have to think Toure shades it, as Fab has enough to worry about already... Also being the longest serving 1st team player he would be the right fit..

11/21/2008 7:36 pm

Blogger STRIKER said...

Making Cesc Captain maybe the way to cement a long term commitment from him at Arsenal. It may well keep thoughts of returning to Spain soon out of his head!

Great article guys!

11/21/2008 7:57 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not give it to Toure simply because he is not good enough to start. With gallas out and Toure woefully out of fprm we wills ee Silvestre and Djourou playing until Toure is fit and well enough to even be considered for inclusion.

However, fabregas has already got it so no point discussing.

11/21/2008 7:59 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although i would have given it to Gael Clichy.

Great article.

11/21/2008 8:01 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

come on gooners,
Why cesc? I have one question for the fans who say cesc should be captain?will alex ferguson make ronaldo a captain to make him stay at man u?arsene made gallas the captain to make him stay and get him on side,but did it work? no. Arsenal fans has to realise that the team will be there longer than any of these overpaid players. Cesc is not his best this season, it seems like his head has been turned.Only clichy has given 100% this season, so he should be captain. if not toure.

11/21/2008 8:57 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks for your comments - much appreciated.

I'd like to comment on Clichy and Rosicky.

I like Clichy a lot - excellent demeanour on and off the pitch as well as being a fantastic left back. But I don't think he quite has the stature of Toure or Cesc. See him more as vice-captain material.

If Rosicky was fit and could be relied upon to stay fit he would also be a very good contender. International captain, conducts himself with authority and looks to have the respect of all the players. Although he won't get the armband once he is fit he will be a virtual captain on the pitch - he is an important character for Arsenal.

11/22/2008 10:09 am

Anonymous Nturtle said... many viewpoints....but only one man knows what to do...Arsene!!

It'll be interesting...but seriously...Wenger has shot himself in the foot if he did mention that paraphrasing "he doesn't believe the leadership of one guy makes all the difference"!! Well...there is SOME truth in that...but a captain is the symbol of the team on the pitch, of respect, of honour and and encouragement. Arsenal is lacking consistency, and that is something that needs to be worked on by EVERYBODY to be sure...but the mentality of winning starts with the captain. Why bother walking onto the pitch if you can't believe in winning? Or when the opponent scores do you respond? The rallying cry must be there...

I think everybody discounts Almunia...unfortunately, he'd probably make a great captain IF he was more dominant in the 6-yard box - he hardly ever comes out for a catch on a corner! Great shot stopper...but hard to push the team from the back. him to bits...but he's been giving away the ball...and lapses of concentration is his downfall...again not making the grade.

Toure...not a guaranteed starter...but gives his all - great to see...but maybe VP...'s back to Cesc...or actually...Van Persie!!!! A fighter, but tempermental...especially his shockiing red card recently which was stupidity and potentially cost a few points. Maybe rewarding him with captaincy can keep him more stable...could be an outside chance.

And now..yes...really back to Fabregas...I think he still retains the respect of the fans, and of the that might be a biggest factor. His form has been poor, compared to the high level of service we expect...but he's still the visionary, and passmaster...and occasional scorer...he just needs that fitting partner to help free him to do all those things...and that person might be Ramsey...more than Denilson, or even Nasri in the middle if Rosicky comes back, or even Diaby.

My vote would be Cesc...and certainly that would be just reward for an up and coming player of his stature.

11/24/2008 6:32 am

Blogger T said...

Good stuff Nturtle - and you are with Arsene in that Cesc has just been made captain.

An excellent choice - we have followed him since the start and we will all rally behind him!

11/24/2008 1:34 pm


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