Giroud to become our new Captain

Only joking! 🙂

During my way home from London, on a long train journey to the south of Scotland, I had the pleasure to read the special edition dedicated to Johan Cruijff by Voetbal International, the best Dutch football magazine which has been going for as long as I can remember. JC14 was a great character and many believe he is as great a Dutchman as the immortals Rembrandt and Van Gogh are. This is of course some claim, as I doubt we will still study and talk about Johan’s performances and football philosophies, in say 100 to 500+ years from now, as, no doubt, we will still do about the great works of art, vision and minds of those giant painters. Then again, who really knows what makes people immortal and continue to be remembered centuries from now?

One of the things that stand out about Cruijff was his urge to tell people what to do: to teach them, to correct them, to improve them. He would do this with regards to absolutely anything he was dealing with, from telling his fellow players how to hold the billiard cue to telling astrologers how to read horoscopes. On the pitch, either as a footballer or later as a manager, he would constantly talk to his fellow players and tell them what to do, or how to do things better. He did this in such a way that his team mates would accept his advice and, as many have stated in the Voetbal International I read, his fellow players became better footballers as a result of it.

Cruijff was also the kind of player who would lead the team on the pitch: he was the embodiment of the total football philosophy and his feet were firmly on the steering wheel. Cruijff was not just there on the pitch to create and score goals, although they were of course very important and he produced many hundreds of them; he would also direct the play and get involved all over the pitch. Cruijff was always the best player on pitch, in every aspect; and above all, a true, natural leader.

As David Winner put in the Guardian Weekly recently: “He [Cruijff] influenced events on the field not only as a preternaturally gifted and original player, but also through his habit of making major tactical adjustments during a match without reference to the bench.”

And that brings me to Arsenal and a topic we all care and have opinions about: on-field leadership. Many are pointing fingers towards Arsene for letting the PL title slip once again this year, and to me this is not totally unreasonable, but I have also missed the on-field leadership once more this season.

Some reckon Arsene does not value leadership very highly and that he expects all players to play with maturity and control. This is of course fine when things are going well, but when the proverbial hits the fan(s), we need a character on the pitch who can adjust the tactics. Actually, even when things are going well, we need a player on the pitch who can sense that a change of tactics is required and is then able to execute it. For example, we have been pressing hard to get a goal and we finally got it, and rather than keep doing the same thing to get a second, sometimes it is better to sit back a bit and invite pressure and for us then be able to pounce back on the break and get the second goal that way.

For me that person has to sit in midfield, and ideally in the double DM pivot. This would be one for Rambo to pick up but I am not seeing enough progress in his leadership ability to say he should be our captain and become our team leader and organiser. I can see a lot of potential in Elneny but reckon it is too early to give him such a big responsibility. He is very good in making us tick  allover the pitch, and it’s an absolute joy to watch him read the game and make an art of doing important things look so simple.

The two players we have missed a hell of a lot this season are Santi and Jack. I have to admit that I did not think we would miss Santi as much as we did, but we did. Either can play in the hole behind the CF, or, even better, next to the more conservative midfielder: le Coq as the Wall, or Elneny as the omnipresent force. Both are very talented, technically gifted and intelligent footballers: they can read the game, can make tactical adjustments and have the communication skills to lead the team.

I reckon Arsene underestimates the importance of leadership on the pitch and puts too much trust in the collective sense of responsibility and leadership ability. It is time for a strong, unchallenged captain who has the skillset, and respect of the other players, to lead the team throughout the 90 minutes of each and every game. Whether it is Jack or Santi, I don’t care, but let’s give either of the armband and make the other the depute.

Discuss! 🙂

By TotalArsenal

61 thoughts on “Giroud to become our new Captain

  • Jack needs to grow up off the field before he can be captain. Santi certainly and Ozil vice….

  • Personally i would like to see cech have it , until wilshere proves he can be injury free. El neny looks good seems like a no nonsense sort of guy, but how vocal he is we will see next season.

    ramsey, walcott, mertersacker have all been at the club longer than 5 years but those 3 along with giroud have been the most disappointing and shown no leadership qualities when the team was under pressure . These guys are 25 years old plus !

    i would have more respect for the players mentioned if they turned around at the end of the season and apologised to the fans for letting us down in a real lame manner as they did – it wont happen i know.

    just makes you realise when greats such as adams, keown and viera used to speak to the players next to them encourage them, led by example you saw it how much it meant to play for the club and what they were prepared to do to win.

    I believe wenger’s biggest mistake is the belief in these players,they are good players but only for a cup run not for the league. He himself is taking too much flack for this season’s demise, he is far too loyal to players who cant perform when the pressure is on. We didnt have an open run at the league and our failure is hard to accept but this was also spurs best chance to win the PL so i am a little confused at why they havent got as much flack as arsenal have. Even man city deserve more than they recieved from the media

    its going to be an interesting summer,

  • Nice topic T A and one very close to my heart. However am going to disagree with your choices of Jack and Santi. If Jack could stay fit, I think he would make a great captain. I know not everyone will agree but I like be it when Jack stands up and sings abuse at Spurs. It shows a passion for the team, which I think some of the overseas players are not in tune with. My problem with Jack is is his fitness record. The very nature of his game means he is always likely to sustain impact injuries. I think the chances of Jack staying fit for a long period are somewhat akin to someone like Leicester winning the league (whoops).

    Santi I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I just don’t see him as an inspirational figure.

    I saw an interesting interview with Ozil recently where he mentioned that one of the things he was working on was his negative body language when he lost the ball. He was aware that he was giving off negative vibes to the crowd and wanted to improve upon this. Arshavin was the worlds best at this and Giroud doesn’t always do himself favours in this respect. Although not as obvious I think this may be the reason for my views on Santi as well.

    Looking around the squad I don’t see an obvious leader and therefore feel it would be far better to buy a captain than try to shoehorn one in. The really successful teams recently all have inspirational captains at centre back ( Terry, Vidic, Kompany etc). I don’t know enough about foreign footballers to target a name, but it is apparent we need a top quality centre back got next season (another Sol as you put it). So I would try to kill two birds with one stone.

  • crispen 🙂

    What he does off the field is none of our business. Cruijff was no saint either but he damn well was a brilliant captain. Jack has the skills and if he can stay fit would be a brilliant captain imo.

  • cheers first letter of the alphabet 🙂

    fitness is key, absolutely agree with you. I reckon with a bit of luck either Jack or Santi will play in most of our games next season, so that should sort the fitness issue out to some extent.

  • Ah Retsub, but just imagine Santi with the armband in the box to box role, reading the game and directing play and fellow players…. I reckon he has what it takes.

  • My problem with us is the continually infuriating,,going back and building again when we are two thirds up the pitch, this is lack of responsibility within the team .when we had spires and overmars we playeddirect attacking football crossing the ball for quality strikers to finish.look at Leicester fast direct football without millions of pounds spent and they keep it simple. We get to the final third and then we engage into this infuriating passing passing passing and getting absolutely nowhere. Come on Arsene sort this rubbish predictable football that we are playing.sixty thousand propellant all be wrong!!!!!

  • Ah T A maybe you are correct it’s a nice thought. My problem with that is we would be going into a new season hoping it would work. At the beginning of this season we all hoped Le Coq wouldn’t get injured, that Giroud would score 20 plus league goals. I am in fantasy land now, but if we signed a Vieira, Adams, McLintock type player we would know exactly what we were getting from a captains perspective. Will keep smoking the wachy backy.

  • T A congrats on raising a topic that has got the interest of a number of new posters

  • There is no debate on this. Cech should be the captain. He is the only serial winner in out team and has done it all. The captain shouldnt be about the best player in the field but one who commands respect and has a voice.

  • Great post TA! Leadership has been missing at crucial times. Preferably we have a leader in GK (Cech), CD (inspirational new signing), MC (I agree Jack if he stays fit), CF (inspirational new signing). We clearly need inspirational signings that are used to leading and winning.

    Now although our defending could have been better this season, much of this is down to midfield balance and the attacking nature of our footballing brand. I would like to see an inspirational new defender come in to take over from Per but I think more important than this is a real leader who converts the chances that we create. Now Giroud is intelligent and does have very good technique, at his best he is an excellent player for us.. but he is too inconsistent and relies to much on confidence.. And of course he is not a consistent leader of the team.

    So who do we bring in for this? The great strikers as PE noted miss a chance and consign it to history as they play in the now… the next one nestling in the back of the net. I would like to see us at least try very very hard to get Lewandowski.. he is a winner who leads by example. He is Polish national team captain. He can inspire our other players to start banging them in too. Today many reports quote him saying he is an admirer of TH14 and would like to try the premier league. Arsene should do everything to get him. 🙂

  • Good line HT. Part of the rebuilding process. We must believe.

    First of all, what attributes are we looking for.
    Somebody who’s there bawling at his mates?
    Or who points his finger in all directions as if his mates are all novices?
    Or is it somebody who has the respect of his mates in the dressing room?
    Or the star of the team on the field?

    Well, to me they are all relevant to different degrees, but what I consider most critical is a player whose shoulders never drop irrespective of the situation on and off the field.

    Ozil’s body language does not inspire.
    I have seen Jacks shoulders drop, in fact collapse.
    Santi is too much of the nice guy next door and never ever going to bawl at anybody even when necessary.
    Rambo has that tiny bit of selfishness that can get players murmuring.
    We need more time to get to know Eln better, but his very consistent focus is encouraging.
    Sanchez seem to tick numerous boxes, but one wonders about a captain getting shoved off the ball easily because of the size.
    Nacho ticks all the boxes, but how much respect does he enjoy in the dressing room.
    Kos appears too much of a Lone Ranger.
    Gabby will boil over.
    Bellerin, no no no……… not yet.
    Walcott will abandon ship.
    Giroud, really fine but I fear he’d be warming the bench too regularly.
    Welbz will be too preoccupied with deft touches.
    Coquelin, good material, but still too tender a shoulder.
    Campbell would be so enthusiastic, he would loose his territorial discipline.
    Cech, yes, yes,yes, but an outfield player would be more effective.
    Oooooospina, bench and not tall enough.
    Per, the best of the lot, only that everybody now speaks of him in the past tense.
    All others not yet ready.

  • Nice post, TA… Indeed the only guy who smoked more than our Jack is probably your Johan… 😀

    The Captaincy, I think, is important and I like your choices, but, with our “failures” this season we probably need to think more in terms of re-making the squad and then the captain figures will emerge. Koscielny, another with fitness issues, for me is the immediate inheritor… Cheers for acknowledging the importance of Santi…As a capitan, I’m guessing, his smiley style (and his lack of imposing physicality) probably won’t please the fans who prefer a more serious “English” type.

    Carrying on from my post on the previous thread–and again I know I ought to be slated (if people still care…) for saying it–but I see plenty of trouble with the guy many assume to be our best player. The Chilean national team is one thing, but trying to be “el hombre” didn’t work out for him at Barcelona and, I fear, although he carried us through a big injury crisis in his first year at the club, he’s the type of player who needs too much of the ball (as they say) and/or too much of the pitch. If he could truly carry the team on his shoulders OR be the team player (he ought to be) to get others to rise up he would already be our captain. Alexis Sanchez is the guy I speak of (of course)….

    He’ll probably score a hat trick on the weekend, but I would like to look at the stats and see about our record with him in the squad. We thought we were done when he went out but we rose to the top of the table and our troubles almost seemed to begin when he returned. That’s simplistic analysis, but so too is blaming Theo and Ollie. (Or, as some people prefer, Ozil, or anybody else or always, always, always, the manager…)… Would Bayern take him off our hands in exchange for Lewandowski? Probably not… (Lewa, when he says he wants to play in England, FMJ, means “at Man City” where he can go on Yaya Toure money–approx 50-100% more than anyone at Arsenal…) But, they might take him off our hands…

    I don’t mean to be so negative (geez, I’ve been saying that a lot lately…) but the question re: captaincy is do we want a guy who leads by example or one who is a leader and can get people to give 100% in playing their respective roles in a (real) team? I’m not questioning Alexis’ (or players like him and their) effort–only whether or not it is always in complete service to the team. Sometimes great personal skill is at odds with being able to see the full pitch–which is perhaps the great legacy of Cruyff, that he could do both…

    I’d also argue that there’s another similar player on our team and that he might be a good captain if the Chilean were to go. (He gives an appropriately bland post-match interview, at least…) That’s the Welsh Alexis, Ramsey. For me, Alexis is the MUCH better player but both of them I think would bloom if you built a team around them. The question remains: how good would those teams ultimately be?… When it comes to remaking a squad–surely something a new manager would be aiming to do–sometimes there’s addition to be had in subtraction. AW will want to keep his best players (that’s where the money goes, Sherlock Holmes tells me…) so, somebody in addition to the manager (the CEO) needs to do so… With a little trimming and a key addition or two, the squad will be good enough (IMO). After that it’s all about true leaders raising their games in service to the team–and showing others how to do likewise.

    So, Santi (first) and Jack (afterwards) are very good choices and, assuming AW is gonna get one final year to try and come good (before his next contract extension…), I say, why not? Longer term the squad probably needs substantial rebuilding and leaders will emerge as one generation gives way to the next… Or at least I would hope so…

  • Stanley, we will always be a passing team as all good teams are. Now and again a team like Leicester will surprise us all but it probably wont happen again till 2037 or so. So let’s stick to the modern game and what we know best but just become better at it. Sitting back a bit now and again to tease the opponent out, just like MU used to do under Red Nose so well, is not a bad thing to do, however.

  • Retsub, i agree: we can only hope but reality has a tendency to put its teeth in our Arse-nal time and again.

    Can we buy a ready made captain who can take over and get the respect of the rest…. pfffff – not easy I reckon. Maybe Cesc?! 😀

  • cheers Sam. I like Cech, and I would like him to take over the leadership of the back IF the BFG gets replaced next season. But I do not see him as the captain for the whole team; for me he is simply too far away from our attack and midfield to be an effective captain.

  • PE 🙂

    We need somebody who reads the game very well, can make tactical adjustments by speaking to his players and lead by example. I reckon Santi has it all and his career could get to the highest level by making him captain and giving him the confidence and responsibility to lead the team… in the deeper box to box role where he is at his most effective. Jack would not allow to drop his shoulders if he is the captain.

  • strong views on Alsexis, Seventeenho. I reckon he is very important to us but I can see some of your points. I have noticed that he wants the ball a lot but often does very little with it, and losing it a lot as his final ball is often not good enough. I would love to see him as our CF where I think he would fit best of all positions.

    Rambo is a player I have held in high regards and I watched him closely this weekend. I believe he should be standing up and start carrying the team but it is not (yet) happening. Will it ever happen? Not sure whether he reads the game well enough and Santi or Jack would be my preference.

  • OK, settling in to watch a bit of Atletico-Bayern… Whoa…Early goal…So Bayern might want to come out and play… Maybe Admir (or somebody) can save me a google search and tell me who Bayern has lined up to replace the GreatOneDiola…

    My (current) problem with the negative Arsenal blog-o-sphere are the logical fallacies in play. If you pick at enough scabs the patient will ultimately bleed to death (or something)… That said, I think there’s a legitimate critique to be made that if you spend all your money (transfers lately, but mostly in salaries…) trying to get all the best footballers (generally guys who grew up playing in the #10 position) it’s gonna be hard to find one to lead while getting the rest to follow.

    Two seasons ago things looked pretty promising with an older head (Arteta) given the captaincy and playing Jack and Rambo through the middle with Santi just ahead and tucked in behind Ollie up top. With big buys Ozil and Alexis given free roles (out wide) and the FBs providing the (true) width, what wasn’t to like?

    Many things–Arteta, the captain not being on the pitch if everybody is fit (for starters) but then big (or chronic) injury issues for the British guys and Ozil too timid about starting out wide and Alexis the opposite (never using the width his wide starting spot suggests). Then, when Ozil got hurt (and Arteta and would be fill ins like Rosicky and Diaby also unable to play) it was desperate times with guys like the Ox trying to fill in…Alexis rescued some results but we were done by Xmas…

    Guys came back and then moving Santi back and reaching into his hat and pulling out his Coq got us going pretty well, however, and won us a couple of matches in Manchester and a 2nd FA Cup…

    It’s a received truth that “failing to buy a replacement for Coquelin” and “a world-class striker” are why it all went to poo this season. I disagree and I think the leadership issue the post alludes towards is at the heart of the matter. We were a much better team when Santi played because he sacrificed his own game for the team effort. Elneny has been a great fill-in and personifies work-rate and self-sacrifice much as Arteta–another used to playing further forward–did back when he could still stand on his two feet w/o crutches… To me, in recent months, Ozil and Alexis are pictures of frustration although, like you (TA) said (on the previous post) natural professionals who will not give up in these final matches. It’s tougher on other less confident types (or younger, less experienced guys) esp. when the fans are blaming the manager who has picked them and it’s all about the protests and just wishing that matches were for the title rather than jockeying for the CL places…

    But now I’m getting ahead of myself and I should save something for the preview… It’s all to say that you’ve picked a good topic (or maybe another scab)…

    Still 1-nil at halftime and looking all the more like a Madrid derby for the final…

  • Cheers Seventeenho 😃

    Another good comment.

    Ancelotti is the new Lederhosen manager.

    Bayern need that away goal desperately. Footie chess in Madrid.

  • Guys,

    Relying solely on Alexis seems to be everything that the players wished for, and he is the person that our lads try to pass to during the game.

    However, it might be a bad move to rely on just one player. If we play a more open way of footy, we can get everyone to confuse the defense and score freely.

    That’s like the Arsenal of old. We need that to happen fast. And Jacko seems the man to make the difference.


  • My, my, did you find a topic of interest TA 😀 😀 😀

    Not especially my interest … in the ‘Who’, I hasten to add, but I have enjoyed all the responses.

    The reason why I cannot work up too much enthusiasm, NOT that I dismiss its importance, but mainly because the candidate review done by PE is very similar to my own.
    I have a simple philosophy with dealing with ‘brick wall’ problems – If there is not a solution, there isn’t a problem (worth spending time over)’

    Yes, it is a cop out on making an unacceptable decision, but it rings true in this discussion. For every player named, there is a flaw somewhere. So in effect, we are waiting for some new to come in as a ready made captain, or one of younger guys to develop the necessary skills.

    So to outline the necessary skills, this is my prerequisite list:

    1, To affect things on the pitch, and make changes to fit current need, the player needs to be tactically aware … for whole team, not just their own self interest.
    2, Command/Earn the respect of team mates by their own record of accomplishments to the extent that their team mates will follow their lead.
    3, Show by example, in how to project a positive intent.
    4, Not let the burden of captaincy detract from their own game.

    If you run through Pony Eye’s comprehensive list, you can put the appropriate number against each of their names?

    If we go back to the team’s ‘secret meeting’, where they talked through the problems and failings, ‘collectively’ they put it right. But that highlights the lack of a single voice to carry the team to make instant changes on the field …

    It therefore it falls to the touchline coaches to make the decisions, in a proactive way, rather than reactive one. Unfortunately, that failure, if one exists, does lie fairly and squarely at AW’s door.


  • HT- with regards to your last post, and carrying on in this … I would agree with you on Alexis to some extent. There was a brief time with the arrival of Iwobi, that Alexis played a more serving role on the right. Indeed, I even made a point that he did not have one shot on goal, and we won, which was meant as praise. I could go on to say that in the most recent game he seemed to reverted to type, out on the left, cutting in … but that would be hearsay wouldn’t it?
    Regards to (Please tell me, please) … Stop playing games. How many alternatives did you find?
    Second part of that … Time and a place, okay?

    Oh, and rather than leaving your opening line above, perhaps a health warning would be a more appropriate link to Jack … Johan did die of cancer after all?

    Sorry HT, you bring out the negativity in me …

  • FMJ 🙂

    Somehow skipped your fine comment. A leader from the front is an interesting option, mad Lewandowski would be some player to sign. Would he be accepted as a captain straightaway though, and has he got the tactical nouse?

  • Hi TA 🙂
    Thanks for picking up on my comment which yes lacked a suggested tactical leadership solution. I think Santi is almost perfect for this, at this time of his career.. he can do it. Jack his understudy, while proving his fitness he should try to emulate those leadership skills from the little Asturian artiste! Glad to see him almost back! 😀

  • Guys,

    Learning from the Vieira and Adams days, we need a leader in each of the domains.

    As i mentioned in my posts earlier, we need one leader in defense, one in midfield to control the movement between defense and attack, and another leader in striking department.

    Alexis is not enough, and we need one more.


  • JK I agree. Santi can be the midfield leader. Lewandowski/or ____ the forward leader. Then the question is who for defence? Cech is a good leader but he probably needs to share leadership with a commanding centre back who can organise his fellow defensive players.. The whole back line would raise their leadership levels with this new signing. He needs to be mid 20s, similar to Per but with pace and consistently dominant in the air and on the ground.. So who should he be? 😉 ..

  • BTW ..I still think a proper finisher, combined with a consistent midfield balance (that we sorely missed for long periods this season) will raise the games and leadership of all our players. The chances we missed have had a big impact, as it is also linked with confidence that the players have in their fellow team mates.. Adams, Vieira etc always had a fantastic striker that they knew would do the business if they made sure they took care of theirs..

  • The trouble is we have a few players that could possibly be captain ,but we need a captain with verbal backing like Tony Adams,we have no player that will put the fear of God in you if you do wrong.. also whoever we make captain leaves the club

  • Talking about tactics, i think we can agree that we have our own tactics, but then the only thing that its missing is the finishing.

    If we lack that i can say that we do not have a chance of winning anything.

    Yes FMJ14, you ended my sentence for me.
    We need a striker that finishes. Bendtner is one, the previous strikers are also capable, its just our current crop has no one to lead on the field.


  • Would be nice to see Santi play some part this weekend…

    Quite a selection conundrum for Arsene, so many to choose from.
    What a shame he didn’t have that problem two months ago.

  • I was just thinking about what a nightmare it would be if Leicester fell apart now and spurs won the league… … Then laughed pretty hard finding out Leicester have Chelsea left to play who will gladly give them the 3pts if still needed.. 😀

  • Hi JK I agree with you on needing a forward but we need better players and leaders in that position why Nik Bendtner..?

  • Stanley Simon yeh we need someone who can put the fear of god up the players when we need it. That would be good particularly in those times that our team goes to sleep for unknown reasons..

  • FMJ14,

    I mean natural finishers, like that Nik and Henry and the likes owned the final third. Even Van Judas did that.

    We need that type of striker, and an able second man right behind him to share the spoils.

    I felt that we dropped for long periods, and wish to know what the reason is, given the way they trained regularly, so its not acceptable to have only a few running and the rest walking around.


  • So the topic is still running …

    In reply to TA :
    Yes, Santi does have a lot going for him, But requirement Number 3 on my list would be the the weakness: ‘To example , how to project a positive intent’? He is just too nice …
    Ideally we would want to morph Santi’s understanding of both attack and defence, with Ozil’s skill in knowing where space can be created, and Elneny’s innate sense of closing down space … along with his energy levels to do it for 90 minutes, a healthy dose of Coquelin’s aggression, and finally, put in a body with physical presence, say of Isaac Hayden?
    I think may that just about describe Patrick Viera 😀

    As for side-line tactical instruction. Well following my narrative that we do not have a single on field leader capable of changing things, it falls by default, to those observing the whole game from the side lines, to make the changes necessary known to the players?
    From my observations, that rarely happens as it appears AW, somewhat naively, wants the players to develop the ‘nous’ to do it themselves?

  • I think we are looking for a different leader, Gerry. I don’t think a traditional Vierra type is necessary. I am more looking for an intelligent and communicative leader who leads by example, like cesc was. Tackles can be put in by others. 😜

  • Gerry,

    Maybe Wenger trusts the collective decisions of his collection of intelligent players more than his own decisions. To be candid with you, whenever we are chasing a game and Wenger takes off Coq and Eln, for Giroud and Walcott (plus Welbz already there), I feel so uneasy. No army dares joke with its supply line. Three strikers at the expense of the midfield is a game of Russian roulette.

    We have been invoking Tony Adams and co. Has modern football moved away from that? A collection of intelligent and hardworking players with a group soul don’t need no pilot. They are already on auto pilot. Where, for example, is the Tony Adams of the current Barca team? Leicester might have a few standout stars but they all work so hard for the team that nobody stands out as the captain. They are all captains.

  • What in effect am trying to say is that Wenger is already in possession of the modern concept of group leadership. He focuses on the recruitment of intelligent players as the base. Drilling the correct work ethics follows but for our team, imo, it is not yet fully there.The days of a fiery captain might have gone. Brand new idea? Brand new heathy organ that the system must reject in a transplant?

  • Hi PE! I like that the modern concept of leadership is moving towards a collective group intelligence but what does that mean for the old methods? They were useful and they still are.. there are undeniable moments, pivotal times where that group leadership in our team disappears.. these are the moments where individual leaders need to shake things up in a more visceral rather than tactical way. For tactics the new leadership fits with the total football approach. For drive and fighting spirit the traditional leaders or leader/captain, is still necessary imo when the time calls for it. The traditional leader/captain needs to be able to operate in the predominantly collective leadership wenger has been bringing in. We can see this with Leicester. They are collective leaders but they also have that traditional leader too.. This is a quote from Ranieri about captain Wes Morgan and then the team after the game they played against Southampton winning it 1-0:

    “He’s a big strong man. Wes is fantastic and he leads by example. When he speaks people listen. But it’s not only Wes. All my players are leaders out there and another clean sheet is fantastic.”

    We need to keep our style of play and we probably wont win 1-0 like the days of old days or like Leicester have been doing in crucial high pressure periods but we need to evolve without losing key attributes that got us to where we are.

  • FMJ,

    Beautiful picture painted to bring out a good point. The collective weak moment when a brawny individual pops up to drag everybody up. A team needs at the least, three such persons but a captain must ađd some other qualities, foremost the ability to command the respect of others.

  • Yep PE. And Wow I have just been reading Wenger’s latest comments in which he calls out the fans.. Saying ‘Quality wasn’t the problem this season & Home fans need to be more like Liverpool.’ I partially agree. It is what BKers have been saying for a while I think regarding the atmosphere at the Emirates. They are the 12th man. Another vital leadership component of the team. But he says if only away games were included we would be “championship winners.” I just looked at the away league table and we are third having played one game more.. With a game in hand Man City & Liverpool are 3 pts behind us, Tottenham 3 points in front and Leicester leading the league 7 points in front of us. Still it is better than the fifth position we are in on a home league table but definitely not championship winners.

    Imo Wenger goes in hard against his critics while leaving himself weak on the counterpunch and this may stoke the fires… The ‘championship winners’ away comment is factually wrong so he shouldn’t say that.. Fans will be questioning whether he actually believes that.

    I don’t think it is time for a change but the time is getting much closer if Arsene thinks it is solely the 12th man. The fans get frustrated over such statements, and now one is directed right at them, amid the familiar frustrating backdrop of the length of time it is taking to build the team into genuine challengers.

    I believe and just about still trust Wenger sees the bigger interlocking picture, it is he that has to actually nurture the leadership and team qualities, commentators and bloggers just call out. It is easier said than done. Injuries have conssistently slowed our progress down, alongside the complimentary pairs of Wenger having perhaps too much faith and trust in the team maturing coupled with the room that gives for individual players to act out and let him down badly. Apart from those who did this and are now not here the ones still here effect our progress. Walcott is one, he can finish if given the chance and the game at Tottenham when he played so well and then went off injured that was bittersweet.. now more than two years ago. Since then I have only seen disappointing regression in Theo’s game and attitude, overall.

    Leadership of the team comes from the fans. The manager. The captain. The collective team effort and key men of the teams spine. In Gk we have Cech, in CM we have Santi, in CF we need a finisher-link up man hybrid (the new forward leader). Walcott could have been the centre forward in our spine that inspires and leads others to finish their chances but he didn’t step up. Will he ever? .. So get Lewandowski or someone of that ilk in the summer (easier said than done). With the collective leadership almost there, probably maturing with a tactical leader like Santi, we also need a strong leader figure who the players are compelled to listen to just like Ranieri described Wes Morgan for Leicester. We also need Wenger’s methods to change so that no more soft, temperamental players think they are at home at a club like ours.

  • Yes TA, I too have enjoyed the responses your post has generated. Good stuff all round. 😀

    Responding to your point on Viera. Perhaps I should have said a more versatile and intelligent Viera. Indeed, I think my morph figure carries an image of the type of leader you are looking for?

    PE – Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t ‘Project Youth’ supposed to develop that collective thinking … a bit like a robot learning about to develop an improved version of itself. By bringing a whole team together through the ranks, they get to know and understand each others strengths and weaknesses? We know now that such a project is not feasible on its own.

    Like your transplant analogy, where it falls down is when the collective has to reinvent itself with every new introduction from the greater pool of players. The new players have to adapt to not hearing a directional leader pointing the way, to a more subtle one of intuitive understanding of the bigger picture. Transplant analogy again, the immune system is resistant to change, and has to be suppressed during the ‘acceptance’ period, but if the new body is not in line with the whole body, it will attack again and the whole thing breaks down.

    We may have a collection of intelligent players who will collectively reach a good solution to prevent future mistakes. But that can only be done in the cold light of day, not in the heat of battle. The idea of mini captains running the show also has a big weakness if each only concerns himself with his own area of expertise. An example of that we see often enough is when we see Alexis urge whoever to ‘high press’ the opposition CB, while he closes in on the fullback. Alexis is not thinking about the gap behind the ‘whoever’, only about getting a turn over for our attack? This happens in defence too, with lots of finger pointing as to who should follow the runners in behind, without ever considering they may leave a more central guy free to turn and have a run at goal.

    Now I am not saying a single, intelligent captain will prevent all of these things from developing adversely to the ‘on field body’ as a whole, but what he should be doing is making the players follow the script that the manager set out before the game. If that is not working, or has gone pear shaped because someone is not quite on his game against a strong player from the other side very much on his game – remember Montero on Bellerin, for example? – Then the captain should carry the overall authority to say to ‘whoever’ ‘… go and assist him, and I’ll get someone else to fill in for you’. Now this may blow a complete hole in the previous team tactics they had planned for, but even if it is a temporary measure, it is probably what needs to be done?

    And as I have said earlier, if not by the captain, then by the coach who can see his original tactics imploding!?!

    FMJ14 – The Leicester analogy is interesting, but it is not readily transferred to other teams.
    Leicester’s chief game plan has developed from the players they had, and how to get the best out of them.
    First it is counter attack, sitting deep and allowing Vardy to have the space to run into. But not just Vardy. They leave at least one other high up to run away from Vardy, but into space. The second key player is the one who supplies the ball over the top the moment they win back possession, usually Drinkwater, but again, not just him. They also have the hard working Okazaki and Kante, and the very talented Mahrez, and behind them the solid CB pair of Huth and Morgan, and throw in a couple of FB who will run all day, and you have the foundations for a very simple plan that can be repeated week in, week out.
    Early in the season they threw many bodies forward and scored plenty of goals, but their defence suffered a bit. As they have matured, with the addition of some astute new signings, they do not have to leave the defence quite so exposed, but are still very capable of scoring against any team, as their record shows. But the key to it is, that they use the formulae that can be drilled in training and carried out on the field with the minimum of fuss. Even the loss of Vardy has not knocked them out of their stride.

    Transfer that to the way Arsenal play, where every game has a new dynamic, and change and variation in our approach has brought about recent successes. But that has a weakness when the ideas run out? To be successful we will have to be much more clinical, and take up more of the chances that our very talented squad provides. That is another thing that has helped Leicester this season.
    We also need to develop a skill-set that allows a successful Plan B to be available. We have three more games to go in this season that may define Arsenal’s long term future. All we can do is support the players as best we can.

  • Hi Gerry,
    Rather than looking at it as a straightforward analogy that can be transplanted as an identical replica, the essential elements of leadership displayed should lift all teams and all styles that are open to this evolution. That is: collective leadership (players, coaches & fans) alongside at least one strong leader (called upon at critical moments of collective lapse) and a sprinkling of key players that inspire. But.. Yes I see your excellent point about Arsenal and there change of style for different games.. The messaging from the leadership may become inconsistent and confused as a result of this. These changes in tactics to create new plan Bs Cs and so on, are more the difficult when our philosophy through youth and first team development has been to play ‘The Arsenal Way’.. I still think the analogy applies but this point you raise here may allude to a further requirement of team maturity in carrying out multiple game plans and knowing when we can feel confidence to settle on a few game plans that can solve the challenges we face. And.. Getting that strong captain in can only help with the clarity of messaging and on field instruction we need to get it right.

  • @FMJ

    It’s nice to see that Wenger has been manipulating statistics in order to prove his point. Dictators usually do that before their demise.

  • Strong (and long) comment there FMJ… Even longer, of course, from Gerry but I could (mostly) follow it so I don’t mind… Playing that sort of one-dimensional counter attack style seems a recipe for success–this year at least. Leicester will be English Champs and Atletico are playing above the level we would expect in La Liga and La Liga de Campeones… Their fan support (and the love they’re both finding from neutrals) is at a whole ‘nother level, too…

    I’m not sure, however, what it all says about captains (y capitans)…

    Yes, LC have very good on-pitch leadership in Captain Morgan (a brand of rum, isn’t it?…) but also a lot of snappy and direct, no nonsense players who lead by example. The ugliest of them all (Vardy) won’t be remembered for his cheating nor will Mahrez (surely off to better pastures)… Kante (also likely off…) defending all day and then leading the break or the other members of the back line, Schmeichel, Huth, Fuchs (what a buy, last summer) and Simpson were both strong and resolutely cynical each and every time I saw them play. All could be considered fine leaders or part of a strong collective or leaders in their various parts of the pitch. But, I’d also give plenty of credit to the 12th man, the captain we’ve all forgotton. Leicester play in a modern stadium that–with their fans in full voice–has been an absolute fortress. AW is wrong about the “away champions” bit but LC only lost once on their home pitch this season, to a certain group called Arsenal, back in October… Perhaps that’s what he’s talking about…

    LC are a great story, and, IMO, the league should be saluted for sharing its (television) wealth and promoting it (to the hilt). It should (italics) inspire all the other clubs to believe that–match to match–and over a full season–they are in with a chance against all the other clubs. All it takes is some good, smart football, playing simpley and to your strengths and finding both leaders and followers in a collective effort at the highest possible level.

    So, AW may have his stats wrong and blaming the fans is not his place. He didn’t really, he just called them stupid for following the lead from the press and pundits but those are exactly the forces who will twist his words against his club… In the end, probably better to keep it all on the down low (as we say…meaning “quiet”)…Since he didn’t, let’s us be some of those “smarter” fans he’s implying we could be… 😀

    IMO, we have a manager and a group of players who (I believe) are trying the best they can but we also have a culture of frustration with (very quick) blame and (mostly) irrational reaction and wishful thinking. Blame whoever you can, throw up your hands, suggest a million possible soluteions and then shout it all as loud as possible–or whisper it and let others shout. That’s the Arsenal way, these days at least, I fear.

    Show me a captain who can turn that around. I fear little Santi is–like people are saying–probably too nice and too small and too old and too smart. If he’s the latter, he’s got to be ready to jump this (sinking) ship and head back to Spain. I know I would if I were in his shoes… Jack, a better athlete but maybe not as smart, never backs down from a fight…If it’s in a nightclub… Going forehead to chest with the likes of Olsson (West Brom) or Fellaini (ManU) should get some tougher types fired up.

    So, like I said above, they’re probably fine choices, esp. if they’re fit and able to play. Personally, (like I also said above) I think the armband should go to Koscielny, a guy who came up from obscurity and is a very fine player, though not without his flaws. In tough spots he’s gotten us goals and his presence at set pieces is stronger than guys several inches taller and several stones heavier. He can also play the ball forward with an urgency (sometimes misguided…) that sends a message of its own and can get the fans (and maybe his teammates) excited, even if it sometimes leaves us exposed.

    That’s the best I can offer, but, before I finish up the match preview, I simply MUST give a shout out to JK and his love for Nicky Bendtner. 😀

    Bendtner, a guy who chose his shirt number to brag about his salary, would probably be a GREAT Arsenal captain. For some reason JK thinks he’s a good striker too (mentioned alongside Thierry Henry, in fact) but i’m guessing he never watched those matches where he missed chance after chance after chance (after taking a day to get into position for the shots…) and was more or less laughed off the pitch. He’s now available on a free, having had his contract at Wolfsburg terminated. If we promise him the Captaincy (and put him back on the 52K/week he put on his back…) we might convince him to come our way despite his (earlier) career plans to play at Real Madrid or Barcelona. It’s a longshot but worth a go, I think… More smileys…

    Happy Friday…

  • Admir, very pithy, my friend, but also not an answer to the question of the captaincy… I’m sticking with a threesome…Bendtner in the middle flanked by Santi on one side and Jack on the other… Or Koscielny…

    I guess if Wenger = Hitler, it doesn’t really matter who helps him on the pitch as his Goering, Goebels, Himmler or whomever…

    As Wenger’s comments threaten to blow up the internet ahead of the match, I guess I need to work them into the preview… 😦

  • Admir

    Our home support for the team is a disgrace and the stats do not lie. Wenger is right there.

    I know you come from an area full despots and war lords, but don’t use that term for our manager on this blog. 😠

  • Actually, stats don’t lie – we are not champions either at home or away. 🙂

    Captains? Easy one. Sign Ibracadabra and give him a captaincy. He’ll kick all asses in our team and in the opponents.

    That transfer won’t happen though because Kroenke won’t allow it.

    From the current crop – Le Coq. Enough fire and spirit to raise the team.

  • Sorry HT, Kos fails on the rule about not letting the captaincy detract from their own game.
    As Kos can barely organise his own partner without being half the player he normally is, i.e with a partner that does not need organsing.

    Personally, I think we only have one who could cover both, and still play scrabble in his head while doing so, but he needs a mouth piece. So I am going to suggest Ozil uses Coquelin as his ventriloquist’s dummy … except here the dummy interprets into plain commands, rather just vocalises it.
    Sample here:

    O – ‘Alexis, would you mind playing more on the right and keep their full back occupied, please?’

    C- ‘SANCHEZ! Fxxk off up the field and stay out of my way!’

    O – ‘Frances, if that nutter of a DM kicks me on my achilles again, would you go and explain the rules of the game to him. If you would be so kind?’
    O – (with a broad grin) … ‘Yes Master, with pleasure’

    This could be a new game for fans to play along with down the pub …. Call it ‘Coq in mouth’

    😀 😀 😀

  • We are incredibly hard on ourslves with so much self criticism. Worse is that we áre all getting socked into the vicious cycle of feeding and believing each other.

    The Injury has the following injury league table stats:

    1st Ncastle 380 player weeks lost.
    2nd Liv —267
    3rd Evert ‘-230
    4th Arse —229
    5th Manu -229
    7th Manc–200
    13th Tot –144
    19th Leic –75.

    The top 5 teams who lost 200 player weeks or more all performed below expectations. It tells us that we must be careful before we tear a fairly good team to pieces.

    Tot and Leic had much better fortunes on this table and on the real PL table.

    This stat alone ought to narrow the width of our criticisms if not it’s intensity.

  • Ah great stats thaere PT . It puts it into prespective and injuries are one of the first things that come to my mind when assessing how things have gone. We suffered in critical areas on that front again this season. Wil it ever improve?!!

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