I can’t decide in my own mind if Emery’s decisions to let the players pick their five captains is a good bit of management, giving them the opportunity to have more investment in the running of the team, or a sign of weakness because he doesn’t want to make a difficult decision.
Rob Holding has been the man to open up about this process that Emery is going through with his team and he told some of the press that the players are all voting. Whether or not Emery ever intended for this process to be made public remains to be seen, but the decision to hand responsibility to the players is nothing, if not a little odd.
This comes off of the back of Emery admitting that Calum Chambers basically ignored his instructions in midweek and decided to press further up the pitch when he was switched to left back. Heck, it worked out well, resulting in another assist and certainly we all enjoyed Chambers’ marauding ways against Forest. But does this point to more worrying signs that the players either aren’t really understanding his instructions, or more concerning, do they just not believe in them?
The coach is the man they are supposed to listen to. He is the guy who sets the vision of the team and he’s the one they are supposed to look up to and believe in. When you’ve got players ad-libbing because there is a breakdown of any sorts, it usually doesn’t bode well long-term.
Or perhaps I’m reading too much in to this? After all, these days the captaincy role feels a little more ceremonial, with the old cliché of ’11 captains on the pitch’ being used plenty of times to describe the top teams. Emery has, in theory, applied that logic to half the team anyway in his ludicrous “five captains” mantra I think. Why do you need five captains? It pretty much devalues the role as it is and now that he’s turned it in to a popularity contest it does so even more, doesn’t it?
I remember a great scene in the Simpsons where two aliens took over the US presidential election. When Kang/Kudos are found out, they make a joke about voters being forced to choose and at the end of the episode when the human race is enslaved, Homer says “don’t blame me, I voted for the other guy”. It kind of feels like this is a little similar because it effectively is making a mockery of the captain position but, if a player doesn’t like or listen to a captain on a field, does he have a “well I never wanted you as captain” mentality anyway?
It all feels a little messy and unstructured. It feels like Emery has tried to pass the buck a bit and just wants to dodge the captaincy billet with his players, the media and the fans. What he should do is just front up. If he wants to pick Granit Xhaka he should just do it. If he wants to pick Holding he should just do it. We’ve seen plenty of captains be selected and then not get in to the first team so he doesn’t need to live in fear of dropping a guy he named as captain. We’ve also seen young guys take up the mantel in the team. For some of them it has been the making of them. Perhaps that’s true of someone like Xhaka? Perhaps if he was chosen he’d get to cut out the stupidity in our own box, perhaps!
Either way you look at this whole captaincy debacle, it just seems silly and a bit unnecessary, if I’m honest. We’re coming up to October and he hasn’t just named a captain even as a ceremonial position.
Anyway, like I say, I’m possibly reading too much in to it. Maybe I’m doing that because frankly I don’t want to think about Monday night’s game against United at Old Trafford. Our wretched record there ensures that there’s plenty of us Gooners who are hardly licking our proverbial lips at the prospects of three points against a pretty terrible United team. Last season they were bad, but this season they appear worse, so it feels like fates might end up conspiring against us once more to make it 16 years without a win in the league there.
We’ll hear from Unai at some stage today though, so hopefully he’s going to tell us all to take a chill pill, because has “a cunning plan”. I won’t hold my breath for that, but I will hope he enlightens us on the captaincy situation, if only to stop it from being a topic of conversation.
Right, I’m offski. Tomorrow I fly out to Nashville for a two week road trip. So after tomorrow’s random musings the timings of my brain dumps on all things Arsenal might be a little sporadic.
Catch you all tomorrow.