Honestly, have you ever seen as much fuss being made, as the whole ‘Wayne Rooney dropped’ saga that’s being played out in the media. I don’t remember any other captain getting the same level of treatment and attention when they were no longer England captain. It’s just, well, weird if you ask me. He’s 30 years old, he’s had his time playing in the England team, it’s time to let someone else have a go. Isn’t that simple?
They should just do what Arsène does, and give the captaincy to the player who has the most time to write in the match day programme.
I kid, I kid, don’t get your knickers in a twist.
But although I say that about Big Per a little tongue in cheek, it’s hard to argue for any of us that the role of a captain isn’t seen as what it once was, especially at Arsenal, where we’ve hardly had any iconic captains since the mid 2k’s. We were blessed back then with Adams and then Vieira, who were the talismen for their respective Arsenal incarnations, but since then the role has hardly been one that you’d say has been spectacular. Thierry was made captain because he stayed at the club and was the star in the team, not I think, because he specifically embodied the traits of a ball-busting captain like Adams.
After Thierry came Cesc, who we’re told ‘led by example’, but I don’t think he was exactly leadership material. After all, he’s hardly gone on to other clubs and been seen in the team as one of the leaders of Barcelona or Chelski, has he? Again, I think in this instance the role of the captain was dished out to the star in the team rather than the leader. It’s almost as if Arsène wanted to hit Henry and Fabregas with some kind of psychological barrier for not leaving the club. Didn’t work though, did it? And Fabregas showed his true colours in the last season before he left Arsenal; spending half the time ‘injured’ and the other half being a disruptive influence on the club.
Then we had Gallas. Good grief. Let’s deviate away from that one quickly, eh?
Thommy Vermaelen came next and at first, his role felt like one where we’d see him assume that captaincy like the good old days of Adams. A ball-winning centre half who could lead the team for years to come. Or, a Belgian who was eventually usurped by an upgraded pair of centre backs in Big Per and Kos.
So we moved Thommy on and slotted in our statesman Arteta. I feel like that worked for a little bit. He was a good representative, he played the role of a playing ambassador well, but he was in the autumn of his career and we were never going to see him play regularly on the pitch, so his role as a captain felt more like a version of what Freddie was doing for the club, rather than what influence he had on the pitch.
Which brings us to present day and to Big Per, who has effectively acted as captain for the last couple of seasons, but with the introduction of Mustafi, must be wondering how much game time he’ll get. He must be looking at the Arteta situation and wondering if that’s the role he’ll have to adopt. The only difference here though, is that Big Per has – I think – a little more in the tank for his career than Arteta did when he retired with us. Arteta had his injury problems that probably forced him out of playing before he wanted to, but Big Per has another couple of seasons in him I think. So what does he do? His contract is up at the end of this season and I’m sure Arsenal will want to renew it for a year, but does he take a look around and see if he could get a couple more? In England? In Germany? I’ve already written one blog about this recently, so I won’t labour the point, but I’d give him another couple. He doesn’t rely on pace and I think he would be a good rotational option for our first choice centre half pairing.
So back to my original point, which is questioning why the fuss about a captain being dropped, because to me it seems like a natural part of football. The thing is, it’s also become more commonplace in modern football because of the intensity of the game and the number of games played by the top players. Managers need squads these days and as such, a club captain will rarely play 50 games a season every season any more I don’t think. Coupled with that, I don’t believe their role in the team is that important any more anyway. Let the mascot toss the coin, that’ll save us all a job, for crying out loud.
What’s your view? How do you view the captaincy?