Arsenal - Leaders needn't be the Captain
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Leaders needn't be the Captain

Much is already being made about the Denilson interview conducted by Brazilian Arsenal supporters earlier this month and published on arseblog. If you haven't seen it it's worth taking in.

Denilson is probably learning Kiplings wisdom as he endures the 'truth' he's spoken 'being twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools'. It`s a good sensible and lengthy interview in which he says a great deal about the difficulties of moving continents at a young age to pursue a career, his relationships at the club and his loyalty to and ambition for the club.

Predictably his comments about Cesc not being a leader and a lack of leadership in the team in general will spark the most heat. Of more concern though should be that he doesn't see any real leaders at the club, that the team is more of a collective, working together well but limited to an extent by the absence of a forceful, driving personality on the pitch. I suppose, as captain, Cesc might be entitled to feel a little irked by such comments but in all honesty the view can't be a great surprise to anyone. At his best Cesc is a supreme and valuable player but not really a true leader, not yet anyway and in all probability it will never be a particular strength of his personality.

It's not even a unique situation for the club in that Vieira wasn't a true leader either. Vieira's situation was different though in that he did have leaders on the pitch with him that had captained club and country; Gilberto, Campbell, Ljungberg, Lehmann even, were all leaders though with different styles. At the same time Henry, Pires and Lauren were all senior personalities. Vieira had the advantage of being captain of a team that didn't need captaining.

Cesc doesn't have that advantage in what is still a relatively young team with perhaps those with leadership potential not yet being at the stage of their careers in which maturity can endow them with a degree of leadership acceptance. We will find leaders among these players but I'd have to agree with Denilson that it isn't there yet.

If any player should be aggrieved by Denilson's claim that there aren't any leaders anywhere at the club it might be deputy captain Rosicky who is a player to have held the captaincy for Dortmund and his national team. As one of Denilson's best buddies, according to the interview, he might be having a word with him too.

The Arseblog video, interspersed with Denilson clips, ends with a clip of Fabregas embracing Denilson. Hopefully that's the way it will be seen.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday January 19 2011

Time: 9:50AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
I read this on the sun and instantly dismissed it as over quoted ********* like every Wenger interview they post.
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19/01/2011 09:58:00

Full interview can be seen here:
Wyn Mills
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19/01/2011 10:08:00

Surely the situation is indeed unique if we appear not to have any natural 'leader' in the team itsef?
Wyn Mills
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19/01/2011 10:12:00

It's not unique that the captain isn't a true leader which was the point of the Vieira example. I suspect it's not unique that Arsenal teams of the past haven't always been blessed with natural leaders too.
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19/01/2011 10:15:00

Agreed, but I would in turn hazard a guess that one could correlate periods of success for the club with strong leadership on the pitch.
Wyn Mills
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19/01/2011 10:19:00

Anyway, here's Cesc's reply:
Wyn Mills
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19/01/2011 10:22:00

I think Cesc is a leader, I think he has an inspirational personality on the pitch and is the heartbeat of the team. The crux lies in an illustration used in the article, he lacks liuetenants Even Adams had Bould, Keown, Dixon, Seaman, Smith etc. Cesc is largely doing the job on his lonesome which is a tough call. But I do very much regard him as captain material, the Stoke game last season proved that much I think.
Little Dutch
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19/01/2011 10:29:00

Which successful Arsenal team in the past hasn't been blessed with a natural leader for captain?
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19/01/2011 10:29:00

Cesc has already Twitterered that he understands Denilson's comments are being taken out of proportion. He doesn't seem to give a *****. I think Cesc is a good captain, he leads the team by example and I think we see him trying to gee up the troops often enough. If the players don't believe he's a good captain then he's good one hell of a good act going on there. I wouldn't have anyone else right now.

SW - Patrick Vieira wasn't a natrual leader anymore than Cesc, and that team could be considered successful. Other than that, the only other captains I've know is Henry and Adams, so can't really comment.
Report Abuse
19/01/2011 10:42:00

The argument above is the Invincibles under Vieira. Personally I disagree with this. I thought Vieira was a leader and revealed this during many feisty clashes with opponents. Crucially he was aided by Campbell in defence and Henry in attack. I reserve judgement on Cesc. I haven't seen enough to convince me that he is a natural leader. Clearly Denilson does not rate him as such.
Wyn Mills
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19/01/2011 10:43:00

Vieira was more of a leader than Cesc in my opinion, I still think Cesc is a leader, but is learning his trade game by game.
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19/01/2011 10:47:00

Perhaps the real issue is one of perception and Cesc's relatively tender age. Cesc may have leadership qualities but imposing that leadership on sometimes older, more experienced players is not something that is always easy to do.
Wyn Mills
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19/01/2011 10:50:00

If there is a difference between Paddy and Cesc then it's marginal I think. It's easy to be a leader of a winning team, I think Cesc has a much tougher job than any Arsenal captain (ok there was only three of them) since TA6.
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19/01/2011 10:58:00

Sorry, 4 of them, forgot about Gallas.
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19/01/2011 10:58:00

TV and (somewhat encouragingly) Djourou of late are very good at barking orders to the back line. Bizarrely it seems to be Djourou who is the one to play people onside, but at least he is vocal. Much of Henrys 'leadership' I recall being complaining that people didn't pass or their pass was poor - quite a negative approach that really affected the younger members. I remember Viera being a great leader; Vocal, encouraging, supportive to the younger and never shying away from his work load. He looked like someone who had been watching Adams as a guide. There are different leaders; those who lead by example and those who shout and flap. Both have their positives. I thought Cesc was great to tell the crowd to get noisy for the last minuets of the Leeds game, maybe the next step would’ve been to turn to the players and really instil the idea that they can get the second goal. Having said that they all responded anyway so who can tell…and interestingly no one responded more the Denilson.
No 10
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19/01/2011 11:11:00

When I first heard of the Denilson interview, first thing I thought was he's trying to get back at Cesc for criticizing him for conceding that cheap penalty, recently (Leeds, it was). On reading the context, I am convinced he meant little harm than trying to say it as he sees it. Good thing Cesc doesn't make much of it. And, he is a good captain and leader for our club.
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19/01/2011 11:38:00

Really interesting interview. I forget how good a shot Denilson has from the edge of the box, I really felt that against Ipswich, Leeds and City we should’ve had some long range shots early on. Thus drawing their defenders out to close down and creating space for the little pass into the area…or of course shoot and score.
No 10
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19/01/2011 11:42:00

The thing is, there are different types of captain. Those who bark out orders and pump their chest (Terry/Adams) and those who lead by example on the pitch(Gerrard/Vieira). *Sorry for the examples but I couldn't be bothered racking my brain*. Cesc is more the latter. The worrying thing for me is that Wenger seems to pick his captain almost as an incentive to keep them happy at the club (may be harsh but is how it seems). The most 'natural captain' in the current squad seems to be Vermaelen, but you couldn't take it off Cesc. What worrys me about Cesc is, if he isn't playing well (Ipswich) he seems to become introverted and quiet. A captain needs to show his charater seperate from his performance.
Report Abuse
19/01/2011 12:27:00

I'm still not convinced that he said that. Maybe the words got twisted in translation
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19/01/2011 15:05:00

I doubt that he meant it to sound condemnatory in his own tongue. He doesn't say that there is anyone better suited to be the captain than Cesc. Sol Campbell was used as an example in the interview and there is no doubt that he was pretty demonstrative and vocal last season though having lost 5 of the 13 games he started for us maybe his isn't the best example of effective leadership either.
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19/01/2011 15:24:00

Eboue=GOD, Denilson DID in fact say it. The translation on arseblog is accurate (ignore the Sun article). I'm fluent in Portuguese (I'm Brazilian). And Denilson is entirely correct about there being no genuine leadership in this team. I think Cesc has some leadership qualities but as has already been pointed out, he doesn't have strong authoritative personalities to help him. He's only 23, ffs, he's still learning himself. I also think Vieira had leadership qualities but he wasn't as strong a leader as Adams. You gain leadership abilities with time and trophies.
Report Abuse
19/01/2011 15:47:00

Jaelle is there some sort of a culture difference here? Bit like the Russians way of "saying it how it is" - does this exist? Only reason i can see for Denilson to sl8g off his captain like that. As if an English player said that, Wilshere for example, it'd be unthinkable.
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19/01/2011 15:54:00

Think it's a similar situation at Spurs where we havent had leaders in our side for years (Dawson aside) and imo its what seperates good teams like ours and great sides. Winning mentality. I mean how else have an average Man Utd side stayed unbeaten, they have leaders everywhere and they keep on chugging
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19/01/2011 16:17:00

Players have a great deal of power these days and you'll often hear managers claim the day of tea-cup throwing management style is past when dealing with very rich and transient footballers. Maybe the art of leadership when dealing with such people is changing as Gallas found. Its hard to imagine that McLintock would get away with his leadership style now.
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19/01/2011 16:24:00

If he did say it then I am sure he said it a way which was meant not to hurt or criticise Fabregas in any way. I see Fabregas has dealt with the matter and there's the matter has been resolved. All's well that ends well
Report Abuse
19/01/2011 17:10:00

Cesc swift response to this was brilliant
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19/01/2011 17:33:00

shewore, very good question, and you've hit on a point that I wanted to mention. I listened to the whole thing again. Eboue=God isn't wrong when he says Denilson said it in a way that's not an attack on Cesc. This is difficult to explain in clear terms. Despite the way the media is reporting his words, the irony is that the whole interview is in fact very positive about Arsenal, the club, the team, the players, the manager. He does not in anyway sound like his intent is to complain or criticize. He simply says very matter of factly that he sees no leaders in the team. He says he saw Gilberto Silva and Sol as leaders but no one in the current team is in his eyes a leader. So you can view that as a criticism. But it's not something that he highlights or emphasizes. My take is that he views it as a problem but with the context of the whole interview, he doesn't view it as an insurmountable problem and that it's something that may resolve itself. He emphasizes very clearly that this season the players are talking more amongst themselves on and off the pitch in a more focused way that's different from past seasons--the impression I got was that he was trying to convey that that process is helping the team evolve into a more coherent unit. The way the Sun & other media outlets are playing this up is to isolate his comments and twist them into an attack on Cesc and his teammates - and they really aren't. That's not what he's doing at all. It's just easier to cast his comments in a way to get headlines.
Report Abuse
19/01/2011 17:57:00

OT: Just saw this link on twitter, Mark Hughes' instructions to his team v. Arsenal when he was still at City - this was for the game where Ade stamped on RVP:
Report Abuse
19/01/2011 18:13:00

Jaelle, Do you think this image has been doing the rounds up north? I imagine Wenger will just have scribbled on his board: GO OUT AND SHOW YOUR QUALITY
Wyn Mills
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19/01/2011 18:56:00

Anyone know the Team lineup?
Wyn Mills
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19/01/2011 19:07:00

Quality image Jaelle. Wenger's take on it being "bad translators or good translators with bad intentions" - I don't think that's the case, he definitely said it. But it doesn't really bother me because of the way he said it, if you purely read the transcript it'd p1ss you off, but his body language (which is the most important form of communication) is so nonchalant I can't see how he meant any malice.
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20/01/2011 10:46:00


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