This post was written prior to Rocky’s excellent post in which he covered similar areas and concerns about the fragility of the team – think of it as synchronicity.
A refrain we hear over and over again from within and without the Hallowed Halls is that this Arsenal team lack Leaders. We are told that none of the current crop have the ability to push the team forward in times of crisis and as such we need to buy some “steel.” It has been said that this lack of Leadership is the fundamental reason for our not being top of the table in a year where MU have faltered. How could this happen?
Firstly, it is important to look at the team and see whether this assumption is true. We currently have 5 Captain’s of their International teams. Yes… 5! Almost certainly a record and one that is rarely, if ever mentioned. Rosicky has been Czech Captain for the past 5 years and led them in the Euro Championship. Arshavin has been the Russian Cpt. for over 2 years, Vermælen has been Belgium Cpt since 2009. Both Nasri and Ramsey have been honoured with their national Captaincy this season.
So, 5 National Captain’s and it is highly likely that Cesc will captain Spain at some point in his career, as Wilshere will captain England. Surely, there are leaders amongst them?
Should Fabregas be Club Captain? Does he have the “cojones” to lead the club? In my opinion he is the natural leader of the side, and I would refute the argument that he is not Captain material. Following in the footsteps of two of the finest Captain’s in Arsenal’s history – in Adams and Vieira he has grown up with two fantastic role models – he has seen at first hand how to lead a side, and I believe is growing into the role. It must be recalled that he is still only 23, yet he is the player all the others look to, and for me he does the job well.
Perhaps Leadership on the pitch has nothing to do with Captaincy, perhaps Captaincy is just recognition of the value of the player to the team. In Italy the captain is the oldest player in the team. Often the Captain is chosen purely upon his popularity in the dressing room, but in England the Captain is meant to be the heart and soul of the team and at Arsenal this has to be Cesc.
So how can we not have pitch leaders? Is it as the pundits say, a lack of British grit? Should we sign Joey Barton or Kevin Nolan both of whom have the British never-say-die mentality in spades? OK, not Barton, but how about Scott Parker? Would his attitude have made a difference?
We talk of needing “winners” in the team, and are fed the fable that without experienced winners we cannot move forward as a team (what have Parker or Cahill ever won)? I think we are being misled by the talk of Arsenal lacking “winners”. All our players have grown up in winning teams, through schoolboy to youth and reserve team level they have represented winning teams. Every one of our players is a proven International – surely they know how to win a game or two. Or am I wrong, is winning English Silverware the only way to create a “winning mentality”? And is this winning mentality a requirement for pitch Leadership?
Recently I have read that Wilshere is a natural pitch leader. As far as I can tell what this means is that he gives everything in every game – is this Leadership? Is it a player shouting at others to keep them focussed in the manner of Roy Keane? Is it the sight of Cesc clenching his fists and rousing the crowd? Or comforting a player when they have seriously screwed up? Or a player running 50 yards to help out the defence in the last 5 minutes?
What is clear is that there is much talk about our lack of it in the current side.
What do you think?
p.s. Yesterday saw the premature passing of Danny Fiszman at the age of 66. If we lacked leadership on the pitch we certainly haven’t off-pitch. Danny took a middle sized football business and accompanied by David Dein established Arsenal as one of the most financially successful football clubs in the world. A North London lad and an Arsenal fan throughout his life Danny made his first fortune in diamond trading, and was then asked by his friend Dein to join him at Arsenal. Alongside Arsene Wenger they created the modern Arsenal, funding the new stadium, the re-development of Highbury and the surrounding areas. Arsenal are acknowledged as the financial model for football clubs throughout the world and this alongside the stadium is his legacy. That Danny’s final act was to ensure that his beloved Arsenal was in safe hands is proof of his devotion.
His was a successful life both in business and at leisure. We at AA wish his family long life.
Written by BigRaddy