WHO IS THE NEXT ARSENAL CAPTAIN?
Mertesacker is retiring. His vice captain, Koshielny, has chronic achilles inflammation and is expected not to be very active next season. Someone else has to step into the big captaincy shoes.
We begin our search from the fact that what is required of the captain of today is a far cry from what it used to be. In those days, driving personality was the prime currency for leadership. The captain had to be as hard as nails, able to bawl out orders, pointing, gesticulating and generally urging on his mates. He communicated emotionally more than by any other means. However, football has since altered significantly and with it the environment in which it is played.
It has gotten less gross and more subtle. Egos have grown much larger thanks in no small measure to bulging pockets, the player power and the unprecedented level of public scrutiny. These have acted as game changers dictating that players be handled more delicately.
In a modern top flight football set up, there are various areas of leadership within a team. There is the leader of the dressing room eg Mertesacker. On the field there could be the technical leader eg Ozil, the emotionl leader eg Mustafi and the tactical leader who is like the coach on the field of play eg Mertesacker.
Of these four major areas of leadership, the most vital for captaincy is the leadership of the dressing room. Lucky is the manager who has all four in one player. The leader of the dressing room commands the highest respect amongst the players. He is the one with and through whom the manager works to weld the players into a team. Indivisible, the players become group driven and a formal captain on the pitch becomes more of a formality. A team have to reach this high level of integration for it to fully realize its potential. Klopp’s Liverpool, in my opinion, is one of a few teams that have made tremendous progress in this direction.
For that leader of the dressing room to emerge in the first place, he must have a number of things going for him. He has to be a good performer on and off the field. He must have an indefatigable spirit, equipped with shoulders that never sag. Lastly, but of great importance, he should be a good man manager.
Who can that be in our present team?
Not Ozil. His body language can be so wrong. Not Auba. He is too much of a specialist. Only the smell of goals animate him. Not the younger ones like Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Iwobi, neither Cech who’s got no further record to brake except his own as retirement beckons. Elneny, Welbeck, Ospina and Kolasinac are still on the fringes of things though about tomorrow one cannot tell. Mustafi is my Mr Passion. He catches the eye, but I doubt that he catches the ear. The language of the pitch these days issues softly and cerebrally. Lacazette is a lovely chap who should be left alone to play his flute.
Convince me of a manager’s ability to imbue the team with a sense of oneness as well as resilience in its win-mentality and I would stop this search knowing that each player would have become a wearer of an invisible armband.
Monreal is Mr Consistency, loads and loads of experience. Put to general vote, Nacho, if ever there was a professional, would carry the day. But expect opposition from mentalities unable to contend with the hurdle of in-his-final-years.
Wilshere is a child of the club, loves the club. But it is leadership we are talking about. Can he be the coach on the field, pointing, directing, conducting?
Mkhitaryan looks tactically astute. He reminds me of Mikel Arteta even though his hair is not as well groomed. He is so business-like, so keen to get on with the task, miserly with a smile and unselfish in his game. He looks to me a good leadership material but it’s early days for him and that might count against him.
Xhaka comes across as one of those fellows whose mere presence gets people tidying their details. On top of that, I’ve never seen his shoulders drop, never seen him fazed by what is or what was. And look how he’s suddenly become a pillar on the pitch. I never saw that coming but on this here topic his silhouette is clearly recognizable. He has captaincy written all over him.
Rambo looks adversity in the eyes without blinking. The odds are never stacked against him even if they are. The tougher they come, the harder he gets. That’s a stunning leadership quality. One just wonders if he’d handle the dressing room like an old-school headmaster with a cane in hand.
Sorry folks, I have always been slow with decisions. Not a great leadership quality, eh? As you can see, I can’t even make up my mind on whom to choose as our captain. So, over to you Gooners. Who is your choice?
By Pony Eye.