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Captains' Log

It will no doubt not have escaped your attention that the subject of the Arsenal captaincy has been a contentious one in recent weeks. Today, William Gallas has publicly proclaimed apathy at the constant stream of negative press he attracts, remarking, with rather Gaelic poise, "They can say what they like. They won`t break me; I`m much stronger than that." I think I`ve stated my position on Gallas here enough times now, I do not really have the inclination to repeat it, nor I am sure do you have the wherewithal to hear it again. Suffice to say I wish people would judge football on the pitch and not in the papers. But with many entertaining a contrary view to mine, i.e. that Gallas is not skipper material, I thought I would indulge this and considering alternative candidates. Who could do the job better than Gallas? Now, I am assuming Matty Flamini is leaving so I will not consider him at length. The guy has shown great character and proved to be a good cajoler and a battery for this team this year, but the captaincy is an entirely different prospect. Flamini works well as a behind the scenes kind of cog, somebody to supplement rather than supply ammunition. Thrusting him into the limelight would create great pressure and focus on a job that usually relies on being conducted surreptitiously, under enemy radar.

Cesc FABREGAS- Would be astride most people`s lists. The young midfielder is undoubtedly the heart beat of our team, our creative component who exhibits steel and style in equal measure. Bouts of petulance have decreased this season, but you can tell that for the unrivalled quality this young man possesses, there beats the heart of a winner. A young captain for a young team, Cesc is the icon of Arsene`s latest incarnation. The responsibility might add yet another string to the Catalonian`s already far ranging bow. However, there is also a sense of there being too much too young. In his still tender years, perhaps we should concentrate on letting him hone his own talents further (it is amazing to think that they can go much further yet) before burdening him with looking out for others too. I remember feeling that at the end of Henry`s tenure we had let him become too important, he was the top scorer, top of the assists chart, corner taker, free kick taker, penalty taker and captain. Making Cesc captain would run the risk of a similar prospect, becoming overly reliant on one cog, making other pivots submissively fall into the background. On the other hand, has a barely disguised hatred of Ashley Cole, which can only speak volumes of his character. Cesc is a lover and a fighter, but I think it`s still a little early yet. One day.

Kolo TOURE- Would win the popularity vote, rarely gets injured, rarely endures bad form (current form accepted), the kind of guy who would run through brick walls for the cause. (I bet he literally would run through a brick wall if you put it in front of him). Toure is a great example as a role model given his exceptional behaviour and his tireless work rate. Toure has recently told Sky Sports News that the club is in his heart and that he wants to stay for the rest of his career. Heard it all before haven`t we? Difference is, you believe Kolo when he says that. Transfer speculation is tiresome and frustrating, but players themselves can curtail it if they wish. For instance, when was the last time you heard Toure linked with another club? I am sure most clubs in Europe would find a place for him. Hell, lazy arse hacks haven`t even seen fit to forge a tenuous link with Barcelona to link up with brother Yaya. (If any tabloid journalists out there are reading, don`t even try it. I`ll know!) However, I still am not convinced that Toure, whilst obviously popular with his team mates and supporters, is a leader of men. Does he have enough distance to speak his mind when it is needed? Last summer, Fabregas revealed he felt the Arsenal dressing room was "too nice" in defeat. This probably prompted the decision to appoint Gallas, never afraid to voice his opinion. In his stead as vice captain, I think Toure is getting there. But I think this is too soon for him. However, did once elbow Alan Shearer, which puts another little tick in the plus column.

Tomas ROSICKY- Captains the Czech Republic, seems to play games in perpetual motion and can be a good inspirational figure. However, ideally your captain should play more than ten times a season. Ongoing affair with Gary Lewin would probably lead to accusations of favouritism and split the squad.

Robin van PERSIE- See above.

Bacary SAGNA- Mr. Consistency himself could be an outside shout. Plays the game in the most commendable spirit, is uber reliable and appears to be very popular with team mates and supporters. As with Gallas, having not been at the club that long could be an advantage as he has a slight distance which would enable him to be more autocratic. His strength in adversity of late has marked him out as a real warrior and a figure of inspiration. However, I feel Sagna is more of a quiet, solid performer than rallier of men.

Philippe SENDEROS- Has leadership qualities in abundance, organises, cajoles team mates and has an intelligent air. A seemingly positive personality, Wenger recently revealed that he nearly made Big Phil Captain when Vieira left before plumping for Henry in 2005. With many contending that the partnership of Toure and Gallas does not work, whereas Phil flourished alongside Gallas recently could see him become a surprise regular. Has made errors this year, but no more than Toure or Gallas, has really become one of the Gooners` legendary scapegoats. However, his partnership with Gallas I feel was more to do with Gallas` umbilical marshalling of Phil and I think, yet again, it`s too early for Big Phil. I also sincerely doubt he will be a regular.

Emmanuel ADEBAYOR- Often a figure of inspiration this year, dragging the team in virtuoso fashion during late winter. Gives 100% in every game with a humble attitude, also never hides from adversity. Upon missing sitters at Old Trafford and Anfield, he put himself straight back in the firing line to score. However, the Henry experiment proved that strikers should never be captains and I think we should allow Ade to man the burden of goalscoring without increasing his load. Plus, head butting more junior squad members is not really becoming of a captain.

Gael CLICHY- See Bacary Sagna. Ultra consistent, brilliant player, but too quiet to be a captain.

GILBERTO Silva- With Flamini eyeing the exit door and Gilberto seeking dual nationality, Mr. Professional himself may be tempted to stay and win his place back. Did a sterling job of the captaincy during Henry`s injury ravaged last season and has the utmost respect of everybody involved with our football club. His behaviour this year has been exemplary in what has been a tough season and having shoddily been informed that he had been usurped as captain via the club website, it would be a rich reward for 32 year old Gilberto. If he could hold the armband for a season or two while Fabregas and Toure hone their leadership skills, we could be onto a satisfactory solution. He has a wealth of experience, is a calming influence and reads the game in a masterly fashion. Also once memorably complained that playing Chelsea gave him severe neck ache! But while it sounds like a nice sentimental fairy story, football is an altogether crueller reality. Flamini has excelled due to his energy levels in the Arsenal midfield; hence his style has been very successful in the youthful pairing between him and Cesc. Fabregas has passed the stage of requiring a mentor cut up his meat for him and when Flamini goes, I think we really need to look for a player of similar ilk. I would love for Gilberto to stick around and let his presence invigorate our younger players as it undoubtedly does. But, as Bob Dylan once remarked, The Times They Are A Changin` and the team has evolved without Gilberto really. The lyric from the same song saliently suggests, "For he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled, there`s a battle outside raging." It`s the sentimental choice, but not necessarily the most pragmatic.

Emmanuel EBOUE- Works his arse off, well loved by fans…..I`ll stop there I think.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday April 25 2008

Time: 3:08PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
my choice for next season.. GALLAS
Report Abuse
25/04/2008 15:43:00

Mine too McGooner. But I'm gonna try and suck it in and see what other people think, cos I can't think of anyone better. I'm gonna try hard to take a backseat in this particular forum.
Little Dutch
Report Abuse
25/04/2008 15:46:00

Gallas all the way. I have ignored the media, opposition fans & some fellow gooners criticism of our captain. I want to see him captain the side next season, and i think he will. Gallas leadership was only questioned when he sat in the middle of the pitch. Before that i remember pundits eating humble pie saying what a good captain and leader he was for the team. Funny how when you are on top and winning no one questions you. My oppinion also is that the captain should be a CB or CM, someone who is in the middle and spine of the team. If that were true then Gallas, Kolo, Flamini & Fabregas would be contenders. With flamini leaving and Fabregas having a lot of responsibility already, it would leave Kolo or Gallas. I think i would then take Gallas for his experience, older head if you will.
Report Abuse
25/04/2008 16:07:00

Personaly, I think Toure should be captain!
Fan of Blues
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25/04/2008 16:10:00

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25/04/2008 16:36:00

For me it's a choice between Kolo and Gallas. (I do love Senderos' captaining abilities but I don't see him as a permanent first team player). I'd love to see Gilberto get the armband but unfortunately the team's style of play just doesn't suit his abilities anymore. The issue with Kolo is that he's too nice. That's also the issue with Gilberto. People complain about Gallas'****ly personality but sometimes that's what is needed in a captain: an obnoxious pain in the ass. Many people also forget that this is the first time Gallas has been captain of any team. The observation is always that Gallas is an experienced player, he should know better. But he's an older player among a bunch of kids. And it takes time to learn how to be a good captain, esp. with someone of his passion and temperament. Gallas' emotions and desire to win can get the better of him but why must we assume that he can't evolve and mature as captain? Whatever he says about all the public criticism he's received, I'm sure it has affected him. And certainly he's had to hear it from his own teammates, according to Kolo. I don't believe Gallas is so self-centered and blinkered that he won't absorb any of that criticism and look at himself. He's been on a learning curve, let him try again to apply what he's learned. He certainly doesn't lack the desire or will to win. My only caveat would be if he's alienated any teammates permanently. There's no way of knowing if that's the case, I hope it's not.
Report Abuse
25/04/2008 16:49:00

the word that got censored was "pri-ckly"
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25/04/2008 16:49:00

why did my 2nd post appear before my first?
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25/04/2008 16:50:00

Buy Gareth Barry as a replacement for Flam and bang him in as Captain!
Report Abuse
25/04/2008 16:53:00

i prefer Gallas. he has winner mentality. i am sure that he will have learned from this season. he needs to play better too and behave like a real leader does. Sagna has to be our best player for the 07/08 season. Sagna is my choice for the Best Player of the Season.
Report Abuse
25/04/2008 16:54:00

"has a barely disguised hatred of Ashley Cole" "did once elbow Alan Shearer" gotta say, those are indeed excellent qualifications, tough choice
Report Abuse
25/04/2008 17:27:00

While his performances weren't perfect, he doesn't deserved to get stripped of the armband either, far from it. So Gallas + a little talking-to = improved captain with 1 year of learning curve under his belt. That's it for me next year. I'd also like to add one point: if you have a manager like Sir Red Nose who'd give you the hairdryer treatment when things go wrong, someone calm and gentle like Kolo or Gilberto as captain would do. But Arsene is such a calm man famous for treating players as adults, they almost never get yelled at, then you need a vocal tough guy like Gallas (minus the little bit of petulance). That's why I say a talking-to would be enough to improve him. Don't fix things when they're not broken. He's not broken, just dropped to the floor, pick him up and that's it.
Lou the Gunneress
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25/04/2008 17:29:00

The thing that bothers me about Gallas as captain is that it seems the team lost confidence in him after the Birmingham incident. I supported him but listening to the Toure interview, it had a huge impact on the team "We tried to bring hime back into the team".Do the players look up to and trust him is the question. I say Toure for now as i just dont think Gallas is vocal enough in spurring the players on and getting them positioned. I watched many matches and that bothers me a lot! "TOURE" God Bless!
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25/04/2008 18:29:00

changing the captain with Gallas in the squad will really hurt the spirit of the team. we need a no ***** taking skipper to lead us onto the pitch, and i'll stick with Gallas for next season cuz there is no one else in the team better or even close to him. and btw i did not like Arsene bringing up the captaincy issue in the public. that is really not the way to treat ur skipper..
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25/04/2008 19:05:00

Hey luckys_10, i would feel much better if he took responsibily for his actions. He is very public with everything else but says nothing when he blunders. To tell u the truth i have not seen this no crap taking leader that you have?
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25/04/2008 21:16:00

Captains arent important, if a player wants to shout he will. who gives a toss?
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25/04/2008 21:53:00

I reckon my nan would do a better job.
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25/04/2008 22:13:00

If I was to pick a captain besides Gallas it would be Cesc.
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25/04/2008 23:00:00

This is truly captain-speak: "I tried to install in the team a kind of ‘over our dead bodies’ kind of attitude." And it's quite unusual that Tony Adams issues a "come and get me" plea: "I love the club, it was part of my life for so many years and if anyone at Arsenal wants to invite me back, I’m willing to give it a shot. I’m fully prepared and willing to do what I have to do." Yes Arsene, please get him to help with our defence!!
Lou the Gunneress
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25/04/2008 23:17:00

Another defensive coach candidate?
Lou the Gunneress
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26/04/2008 06:38:00

Lou, the team always finds a way to score If I remeber correctly there has oly been 1 game in the premiership that we did not score, however we tend to leak a lot of goals. Whatever we can do to improve the defence would be very useful for next season including getting Tony Adams who I might say still lives and breathes Arsenal.
Report Abuse
26/04/2008 08:33:00

I think there is only one place that Tony Adams should be, in any shape or form, and that's with us at Arsenal.
Report Abuse
26/04/2008 09:52:00

Cesc is the only way forward for Gunners
Report Abuse
27/04/2008 07:45:00


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