Right, now that I’ve got those pesky previews out of the way I can focus on the real issue of the week. William Gallas is Arsenal captain.
I understand the decision. Now don’t lynch me, I want to make this clear – I understand it, but in no way agree with it.
To me it seems that Wenger’s looked around his squad, and tried to figure out how to get the best out of certain players. If Hleb plays a more central role, he’ll be more dangerous, for example. But Gallas is a mercurial character – how best to get the most out of him? I think Wenger feels, with the added responsibility of the captaincy that he so craves, he can get Gallas to perform far better this season.
It is fairly apparent that Wenger spoke to Gallas, and perhaps each of the potential captains, about who was in the running, and ever since that day Gallas has switched from consistent moaner to the man who keeps raising the expectation levels by praising the squad. Both attitudes were sparked by the same young players, so this change of heart is somewhat transparent. Nevertheless, it appears that Wenger feels the captaincy, rather than being a burden, would see Bill show his true ability this term.
But I think these are horrible reasons for appointing a new captain. You do not select a captain based on how it will affect them, you do not hand the captaincy to a player just to get the best out of them. They have to earn it. Gallas has been at the club less than a year, a year in which he has been injured, complaining, and not playing anything like to the level he can. This may galvanise him, but that is not the point.
Imagine you are Kolo Toure. Can you think of a single reason why Gallas would be picked over you? You are a long time stalwart of the Arsenal defence and the Arsenal way, you fight for every ball, your teammates love you, the fans adore you, and most of all everyone respectsyou. If Wenger wanted a centre back as captain, surely it should be you?
And then there’s Gilberto. No, he wasn’t official captain last season, but as vice-captain to the man who left in the summer, coupled with the fact that for half of the season he fulfilled the role with responsibility and style, he has effectively been stripped of the honour without deserving such a demotion.
I hope that in a few months time, Gallas will be popular amongst us again, having led by example. But today, this decision leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
Today, however, is a day for looking forward, and consider this. Last season, Man Utd had just sold their top scoring striker, were being written off, as some of their younger players were considered still too raw to make the step up. On the Sunday of the first weekend of the season they hammered Fulham, and went on to claim the league.
Wouldn’t a bit of symmetry be so sweet?