It’s Tuesday morning and as I speak there has been no statement from Granit Xhaka it his ‘people’, after his public display of displeasure at The Arsenal fans on Sunday, with plenty of people coming out and declaring that they want him to front up and say ‘sorry’ for his outburst.
Last night we spoke about it on the GunnersTown radio show and, having had another night to think about it, I’m still not sure whether Xhaka should apologise or not. His reaction was in response to the jeering of the home crowd and although Dave said that he thought it was as much cheering an attacking sub at first (then escalated to abuse), I’m still not sure it was, because I still think it was a fan response to a captain that many don’t think should be in the team.
Granit Xhaka is the one bearing the burden of Unai Emery’s failings on the pitch. The delay to announce him as captain stirred up the discontent when it really didn’t need to. The fact that the coach has talked up the meritocratic approach to selecting his team, then clearly demonstrating that’s not the case when playing people like Xhaka even if he has a bad couple of games, has also contributed to the current situation.
But then last night there were rumours circulating that Emery will let the players decide whether Xhaka should remain captain. I’m sorry but that is some seriously spineless work from Unai Emery, I have to say, because by letting the players choose he is trying to absolve himself of any blame or any comeback.
Regardless of how this situation has developed and regardless of whether Xhaka does or does not retain the captaincy, Unai Emery should be taking charge of this situation, not deferring to his team. What next? Will the players be voting on the starting line up?
If Unai Emery wants Xhaka to remain as captain he should come out today or tomorrow and say “I have sat down with Granit, talked to him about his response, he will not be doing it again and is desperate to repair the relationship with some fans. The matter is closed”. If that happens the coach takes the leadership mantel, he shows his loyalty to his player and maybe he even gets a little bit more belief back from his players that he has their back. Maybe it fosters a little more loyalty too.
What it would do is show that he’s ready to act like the leader off the pitch of the playing staff, which is what he should be doing, not letting this all pass him by and acting like he’s giving the players the opportunity to have more say. It’s ludicrous.
Equally, if he thinks Xhaka overstepped the mark, then he should come out and say that he’s spoken to Xhaka, he will try to repair the relationship with the fans but he will no longer be captain.
It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Just look at the Gallas situation. We have precedent at the club.
Personally I am coming around to the idea that Xhaka doesn’t need to apologise for his actions. He was essentially booed and jeered off by his own fans and yet he’s the one that has to say “I’m sorry”. Not for me. I do think there should be some kind of “this was not a good day for anybody involved with Arsenal and I’m going to work even harder to show you all how much I love the club” type approach. It would show that he wants to get back on good terms with the fans, but he wouldn’t have to apologise for a situation that occurred that wasn’t entirely of his own making.
As for Emery, well, this is just another example of how unfit he is to manage the club. Results aren’t going our way, his communication style is patchy at best, the way he handles situations like this aren’t what I’d expect a top class manager to do, the list goes on. It’s a long ol’ rap sheet and unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to be rectified any time soon. He hasn’t really endured himself to the fans, his methods are flying in the face of what he promised when he arrived (remember, we’re supposed to be ‘protagonists’), there is just little to like about the Arsenal he is currently steering.
We need to accept that his time is up and the sooner that the club can get that the better. Unai Emery is not a unifying figure right now.
That is what we need.