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The Thorny Issue of Captaincy

Paul picked up on a rumour the other day that Arsene Wenger was all set to announce Gilberto as the new Arsenal captain, with young pretender Cesc Fabregas as his deputy. This is a rumour that appears to be gathering pace, but while it remains unconfirmed (Arsenal? staying quiet? Never!), I thought I would give the subject a lengthier treatment by considering the credentials of the lead candidates for the armband. Of course, this is especially difficult to do nowadays with squad rotation, one must assume that the captain would be an integral part of the team. There is also the issue of player egos, ever more prevalent on the modern game, becoming damaged or assuaged, depending on your viewpoint. In the modern game, the choice of captain has also been as much about marketing and club profile as it has been about vibrating larynxes. (I doubt Tony Adams sold many pairs of nike boots, but he knew how to lead his men).

Candidate number one would be Gilberto Silva. He appears to be the logical choice, as deputy to the now departed Henry, this would seem to be a choice even more obvious than the one presented by the Blair-Brown axis. With Henry injured most of last season, Gilberto took the reins expertly, marshalling his young troops with his air of quiet authority. I have always rated Gilberto's calming influence on the team, but never saw him as a captian until I saw him take the armband. It fits him well, he assumes the extra responsibility and appears to undertake that intangible aura that embellishes great captains. You can't explain it, you can't pin it down, but it's there. It reminds me of an old saying from a playwright, possibly George Bernard Shaw, who said, 'You can't see God, but you know he's there. You can feel his wrath.' As a defensive midfielder and an indispensible member of our side, Gilberto appears ideally placed to be skipper. He's graced and prospered every stage of the game imaginable. However, will his captaincy rein in the development of Diaby and Denilson?

Cesc Fabregas- With Henry gone, Cesc is undoubtedly our star turn. Like Gilberto, Cesc relished the extra responsibility enforced on him by Henry's long absence, becoming the hub of our team. Fabregas is a player that hates to lose, as evidenced by his petulant behaviour in defeat (West Ham away, Carling Cup Final, the infamous outburst at Mark Hughes), which is precisely what this young team needs. In an interview towards the end of last season, Cesc spoke about Arsenal's need to get nasty, I don't think anyone would disagree. Cesc is a player with an unquenchable desire to improve. A young captain for a young team, someone who embodies the new Arsenal. However, I would have reservations as to his long term future and making him captain would look to be a move to appease Fabregas. At 20, one could question whether he was ready yet. I believe he has the potential to be a real leader, but we do not want to fall into the trap of using the captaicy to filate egos. It didn't work with Henry, if anything it made things worse. And shouldn't we be rewarding loyalty rather than trying to induce it?

Kolo Toure- A character of unending guts and desire. Never misses a game, never complains, never, ever, ever gives less than 100%. Would quite literally run through a brick wall should it lay siege on the virginity of the Arsenal goal. Toure is an inspiring character who demands the best from himself and has been thrust in the line of fire following long term injuries to Sol Campbell and William Gallas in the last two seasons. Toure DESERVES captaincy, whether he is the best player to take the armband I am not sure. I think Toure's leadership skills are still in bloom, but they are there. He would be a worthy candidate, but whether he is the best candidate I am not so sure.

Jens Lehmann- As the oldest and most experienced player in our squad, Lehmann could be a dark horse. He's taken the armband before and forms part of the spine of the team. Lehmann is a player who cajoles those around him (whether they be an Arsenal player, an opposition player, a referee, or a bag of crisps caught in an updraft that looked at him wrong) and demands the best. At his best, he is an inspirational player. Think Anfield in February 2006. But at the age of 38, and with two hungry goalkeepers eyeing up his place in the starting line up, he would be very much a short term option. Goalkeppers are too isolated to make good captains and Jens is, ahem, slightly given to the occassional loss of temperament.

Tomas Rosicky- Captains his national side with style and grace. In the wake of Nedved's on off retirement from the Czech Republic, Tommy Gun has fully taken the mantle with a series of virtuoso performances with his national team. However, they have come predominantly by playing in a free role, and I would question whether Rosicky has yet assumed that level of importance or authority in the Arsenal squad. But could be worth a punt in the future.

Freddie Ljungberg- Another experienced campaigner who is unflinchingly loyal to the Arsenal cause. As our longest serving player his name should come into the equation, and his fighting spirit on the pitch is undoubted. However, well, he's just not that good anymore is he? Very much a squad player nowadays, and that is unlikely to change given his increasing propensity towards injury.

William Gallas- An unquestioned leader, the fist clenching, bite your ankles leader from the old school. Gallas is a perfectionist. In fact, why mince words? He's a serial moaner, the sort of guy who would not be adverse to taking a cheeseburger back to the counter should a gherkin be improperly placed. Good. His snarling demand for perfection and will to win would be custom designed to compliment our rhythmic play, he has the requisite experience and ability to guide our youngsters. However, he has not long been an Arsenal player and spent a large slab of last season on the sidelines. Is his influence large enough yet?

To my mind, these are the prime candidates, I am sure they are in Wenger's mind. My tuppence worth is that Gilberto is the uncontested winner as captain. He's a top player, a proven leader and a fantastic ambassador for this football club. His composure and ability to perform on the big occasion make him vital to the equation. Playing as a link man between defence and midfield make him geographically poised to oversee and conduct events on the pitch. Top captians have watershed perormances. I remember Vieira playing a cup replay at Stamford Bridge, virtually crippled by a twisted knee, marshalling the team to a famous victory. I remember Tony Adams calm orchestration of Parma's downfall in Copenhagen in 1994. Roy Keane in Turin 99, David Beckham Old Trafford in 2001. For Gilberto, it was Stamford Bridge last season, fathering a young and inexperienced side with his knowhow and diffusing explosive situations. I would marginally opt for Toure as vice captain ahead of Gallas. Gallas is 30 now and Toure is a better long term option. I think the manager has been looking to foster his leadership abilities for the last two years and, though he's not there yet, I see Toure being the type of guy who can marshall this team in the years to come. He's at an ideal age, is an excellent ambassador (who doesn't lift his skirt Spainwards every summer) and just plain deserves it. LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday July 6 2007

Time: 2:04PM

Your Comments

Bert or Kolo please, Freddie = too peripheral a figure, Jens lol be'ave!, Tommy and Billy are just too recent as squad additions to assume the mantle, and Billy mate you're a great player but Gawd he dun 'alf like a moan eh?, hopefully this Mourinho-itus can be weened out of his system.
nikolaijns
Should be Gilberto. Like some of the games he really grabbed the players by the scruff of the neck and carried the game into a result. Also has a calming influence on the players plays a role where he is linked with everyone. If not Gilberto Toure.
Gunners
i think gilberto should b captain 4 now. then when he retires or moves on the captaincy should go to fabregas. I would like toure to always b vice captain though, but i have a feeling in a few seasons he may b plying his trade at barce. don't shoot me. its jus that he has always said he'd love to play in the same team as his brother yaya. hopefully i'm wrong and its vice versa with yaya comin 2 arsenal. we have to wait & c. but in the long run fabregas depending on how long he intends to stay at arsenal, should b the captain of this great talented super team. like his boyhood idol pep guardiola... c'mon the gooners
protocal
With the results we got last year when Gilberto was captain and the way that made him score mor i dont see why there is a fuss, Gilberto should try and transfer that form and leadership to the upcoming season. Kolo Toure should be Vice Captain. I wouldn't like Fabregas to get the captaincy and follow on Henrys path to leave a year after getting the captaincy, its too scary toe ven think about.
abdleb
I agree with K chels, when capt of Brazil he has'nt really imposed himself in the way he has with Arsenal, more pressure maybe the weight of a nation and all that crap?, btw saw Bappers play in the Copa t'other nite - man he was big pants, I mean total Heskey.
nikolaijns
Gilberto Silva, Period.
arsenalrulz4ever
Gallas' moaning is fine with me. He wants the team at its best, and if a bit of earache will get it, I don't have a problem with it. The thing is, he moans just as much about himself as he does others, he's a winner.
Little Dutch
Yes from those available Gilberto has to be the stand out choice. The Toure case seems strong but I suspect he may be one of those smiley guys that everyones likes and respects but no one is afraid of. Cesc has an edge to him which maybe at times isn't likeable but is needed nonetheless. He is clearly future captain material. Showing him that we have confidence in his future with the club may look like appeasement - it may even be appeasement - but at the point when he is harbouring doubts about the future it is an act of belief on our part that may make him feel more secure in his commitment.
Amos.
I think it's gotta be Jens... his unerring ability to stay calm in the heat of battle....his history of being able to get on well with the whole squad.... it's a shame Swiss Tony didn't develop into something we all hoped he would a coupla years back, but for what it's worth. Gilberto, with Toure shading it for vice, although the old red mist in the beer cup final may invoke some reservations amongst the ranks.
AFC85Lew
It is gilberto, Cesc being Vice captain.
gunnerb
It's always been on a toss and a turn for me between gibber and kolo, but with kolo being away every 2nd year for the ACN, my vote goes to gibber. But Kolo is an undoubted leader aongst the team, and everyone loves the guy, he plays for the badge it is so obvious. Gibber, as mentioned, blossomed so well wearing the armband, and his calm marshalling of the team impressed me so much, his goals were a welcome embellishment to his game, and i cannot think of 2 better players to be captain and vice captain - cesc is one for the future, but not *quite* yet. »»Arsene Knows««
Wingston75
Gilberto will turn out to be near unanimous choice IMO. Fantastic captain, and just what we need in a team with these kids. Gallas, though I have nothing against him, loses out in comparison to Gilb and Kolo. I dont think Cesc should even be made vice-captain, let alone captain.
prits
As said before Ces should and must be the V.C.. Very impressed with the way Bert has captained the side very calm always pulling players away when things seem to be getting out of hand. But for all Ces odd moments of indiscretion, his behavior (when M.H. made such a big play) showed his humility when he had mucked it up. Bert for captain and Ces for V.Captain.
alwaysgunner
I wholeheartedly agree on Gilberto... and my vote for vicecapt. goes to Gallas. Contrary what the media say, I think Gallas' "moans" were not exactly that - more of speeches resulting from frustration. Besides being a great player, I think his experience, maturity and winning mentality can be extended to the rest of the team. The only thing in my eyes that goes against him is his short period at Arsenal. 3rd and 4th go to Toure and Cesc respectively.
G4L
Give it to a player you want to keep. Veira, Henry..........
cockeril
cockeril at least our captains didn't go on a free to the local rivals to actually win some silverware.
G4L
I'm inclined to agree G4L, those two appear to be the best placed. But I think we should be looking at grooming someone for captaincy in the role of vice captain. In that respect, maybe Cesc would be the best choice. I just think at this moment in time, Kolo is best placed. Once Gilbo has gone, I'd give it to Cesc (if he's here and performing) and keep Kolo as vice.
Little Dutch
You need a captain who is not afraid to go down with a sinking ship!
Jacky B
I'm a little to drunk to type let alone argue, but our team a few years ago was full of captains. Now, we have Gallas, Toure and Gibba.
hatespur
You must have enjoyed seeing all those premierships Jacky?
hatespur
guys i dunno why we are even disscussing this.....i think its defo gonna be gi;berto.the only reason that mite not happen is if he leaves...and as someone said kolo seems like the smiley guy hu everybody likes........so cesc for vc...maybe gallas
karley
an alcy hatespur? or does your local double up as an internet cafe? I am still at work you lucky get
Jacky B
Big lunches Jacky, a perk of the job. Until now of course when i'm feeling sleepy.
hatespur
Why not stage a debate amongst all the players. You could set up podiums and microphones and let them engage in endless debate and analysis and sell tickets. You'd pack Emirates. Make it a weekly event, the winner to get the armband that weekend. Do the translation industry a power of good, too.
greatwhitenorf
cheapshot in the end LD, but agree with you. Berty is the obvious choice for now, and Kolo to take over the regime from him..
luckys_10
Gilberto Silva is being the invisible skipper. Baptista can't pass correctly.The coach is a retard. Robinho scored all of our goals. Very promising season for robinho....
k_chelski
@gwn: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.........
G4L
kevin good to hear you getting a taste of Arsenal's beast. When he was pants 4 us you were defending him tooth and nail. He is pants isn't he?
G4L
Gilberto for captain, Toure for vice. Please. Off topic (but still about Arsenal of course), have a read of this: http://www.sportingo.com/football/irrational_exuberance_that_augurs_ill/1001,3904
JakeB
good read Jake. And whoever came up with one of my favourite Arsenal moments as a pic for this article - well done!
G4L
Gilberto captain and Kolo voice captain
afghenry
Why should Cesc be vice captain? To me it should go to Toure. Fabregas is still what 19 years old. Toure is a better leader than Fabregas in my honest opinion.
Gunners
Baptista isn't all bad. If he was a bit faster, and thought faster, he could've been a great epl striker.
k_chelski
Let Fabregas be Fabregas. Gilberto to captain team, Kolo to deputise.
GunnerBlood
Gilberto is the only sensible choice, for all the reasons stated. For vice-Captain, forget Cesc - it's between Gallas and Kolo, and you would surely have to pick Gallas. Toure is a model person and red'n'white to the core, but not quite snarly enough for this season - and this season we need some fire. Toure's time will come but putting him in front of Gallas right now goes against the grain of experience. Also, Toure's excellent attitude means he would not be hindered mentally by being 'led' by Gallas, whereas the other way round would be unnatural.
Andy-bayor
Have to disagree there Andy, don't think a player who has been with us one year is even in the running. Kolo is pure gunner, Willy Gallas still has a bit of blue to shake off.
GunnerBlood
Psst Gunners Ces was born 4/5/1987 That makes him 20 going on for 21 not 19. My opinion we need to groom him for the position of Captain and what better place to learn with the example of Bert. Why has age got anything to do with it, if it was such a critical factor we should have never played him as a 16 year old. Give the lad a chance what have we got to lose, more to the point look at what we have to gain.
alwaysgunner
I don't know why we should be grooming him for captain (whatever that means), he is young and he is enjoying his football, to even begin to think of burdening him with captain is just sill. I know big Tone became captain when he was 21, but Tony was a natural leader and a warrior. Feb is a different kind of player and I am just wondering if what people are thinking is that if we don't shower him with rose petals and make him captain that he will just leave?
GunnerBlood
well kevin, if he scored 20 and was faster and was thinking faster we'd keep him - right? since all the ifs are nos it makes him rather pants.
G4L
GB, Gallas may still have a bit of blue, you're right... but what better way to shake it out of the bugger than by telling him he has to do it by example - maybe if he is in charge it will alos turn his moans into more tangible 'bites'! If he can't make it work then, he will have to shoulder proper responsibility. Like someone said above - he is a winner - and we need the formula to harness that quality.
Andy-bayor
Cheers Jake. A very good read indeed, and something I hope we get to see in future. It would be so sweet to see Arsenal succeed in a few years, when we leave the other big spenders by the way side. The club that had the 'most exciting' signings of last summer (Sheva and Ballack) had by their accounts, a season that failed to meet expectations. How I wish this season sees history repeating itself.
prits
I have to say that with United now adding Tevez, a feeling that we are being left behind does persist with me. Anyone else feel like this? To say that this season is going to be massive for us is understating it. I still think the shadow of losing Thierry is going to loom large over us.
Gooner_Vin
every match is 11 vs 11. No matter how many utd bring in they still can't field Hargreaves, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, Giggs, Tevez, Saha, Nani, Anderson etc. all at once. Same with the Scousers, Chavs. What Arsenal needs to do is focus on their own job, and put teams away without too much fuss. If we create same amount of chances as last year and score 1/3 of those missed, we'll be just fine.
G4L
Just a thought does has cesc learnt English yet? I suppose he may have learnt French.
cockeril
Why the hell would any gunner in touch with reality worry about UTD.. Them days are gone!! You may be envious. Just worry about the 4th spot slipping away. Newcastle, Everton, Blackburn and of course are your level. Uefa should be the Target.
cockeril
Yep G4L, 11 vs. 11 is what makes football a thing of beauty - it gives everyone a chance - even the lacklustre Spuds!
Andy-bayor
using the same line for 15 seasons now cockeril? Was it passed on to you from your forefathers from '61?
G4L
Does has Cesc, and know I know... LMAO
G4L
cesc is captain fantastic!
Goofle
i also like the idea of Gilberto as captain.
Goofle
Au revoir Cesc Close the door behind you!
cockeril
Talkin cock there again chicken little. go cross the road (without looking)
nikolaijns
I suppose...
k_chelski
lmao @ nik!
tikabooson
Sorry G4L i`m Frensh and my english is not that great.
cockeril
yeah it sucks cock(eril)
nikolaijns
Fair point andy, just think it is too soon. Willy has yet to prove himself worthy. as for our visiting cockeril: wishful thinking will get you nowhere, we are a giant of European football, top seeds in the champions league and realistic challengers for the prem title. Spurs are realistic candidates for cc glory, that is until a bunch of our kids dish out a right spanking to your first team. Enjoy.
GunnerBlood
You are only giants when actually win something. what have you won in Europe?????????? I think Henry might fanally get that european winners medal now he has come to his senses and gone to bigger club.
cockeril
Hey dip***** before you start talking about winning something you must actually win something. 1 trophy in 16 years is *****.
gunnerkid107
All you've ever won cockeril is a fortunate place on this planet courtesy of that gap between your mother's legs! Just because Henry has joined Barca, desn't mean that he's gonna win a CL medal. It's a knockout competition that anyone can win. Even Spurs! Oh s*** I forgot, you have to qualify to have a chance! Ah well, you're f***** then!
flv
FLV while your on the subject of Thanking perhaps you should thank that.... no I am not going to get into personal insults. i came on hear to get you guys to see the writing on the wall but your such a deluded lot you cannot see beyond........... You will be screwed when you lose the revenue from CL next season.
cockeril
Who said anything about thanking in this thread? Man the voices in your head a fu**** with you again! Personal insults? You don't need any, because you have made a total tit of yourself in every single post you've made over here.
flv
Chill out dude! Boy you are going to be *****ed when we beat you and take 4th spot. Try Therapy. Maybe supporting England(Spurs)
cockeril
Just like you beat us last season, and the season before, and the season before, and the season before, and the season before and the......................................zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
flv
Forget who will be the next captain, It won`t be long before the title will be, Is Pat Rice The Best Man To Replace Wenger.. count down begins. The demise.
cockeril
Cockeril, you are reaching boy. In your head you can see all of this crap you come out with and you probably sit there masturbating to it, but that is what it is fool, a fantasy. The glory days are only starting for us and as for beating us, you didn't beat our kids, you sure as hell won't beat our men, so back to beating off for you I guess.
GunnerBlood
Just the level I expect from an ARSE supporter. What a dreamer!!
cockeril
cockeril if you had waited until you achieved something before gloating, then you wouldn't appear a total bufoon... what was it my learned colleagues said to you on the other thread? Oh yes, that's it - *slap*
Andy-bayor
And yet, the obsession with the Arsenal continues.. I find it suprising you know who Pat Rice is, I haven't the faintest idea who sp*rs right hand man is. Then again, ignorance is bliss when it comes to the spurts! Its okay le coq, I understand where your delusional state is coming from. Poor bugger has the bird flu. Go down some Lockets, that'll ought to fight it!
tikabooson
Gilberto all the way,kolo as Vice-Capt but heard that Berto wont be around from the start onwards so i cant rule out kolo,always works hard for the team,what about william gallas?
Babeasta
Balls to Gallas, needs more time. as for you cockeril, you say I am the dreamer! I support a team that over the past few years has actually won a few things, that's how you measure success, not, as in your case, the size of your inferiority complex.
GunnerBlood
Easy, gilberto
thenry009
It has been there. It was obvious. It is NOW CLEARLY OBVIOUS. Gilberto is captain and TOURE is his vice. Bring in the next agenda please.
SWPACIFIC
Gilberto is the right choice and deputised by the man - KOLO
Zimbolicious
i thought this had been decided just a few days after thierry left, gilberto to be first captain and apparently cesc is our new vice - captain as a reward for stopping with the club ??? not what i think, what i have been reading,
Achilles
 

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