It has been a disastrous week. A 3-0 defeat at Eastlands was the biggest Premiership defeat since the 4-1 humbling at Anfield a couple of seasons ago, and with the Gallas situation placing a huge dark cloud over the club, this was not a period Wenger could just muddle through without changing anything.
And he has risen to the occasion. First, of course, he stripped Gallas of the captaincy and removed him from the weekend squad. Next, he insisted Gallas was still available in a playing role, and finally, he made perhaps the boldest decision in years – appointing Cesc as captain.
There is little doubt that Gallas had to lose the captaincy, but the way Wenger has dealt with this has been quick, quiet, dignified and impressive, from refusing to discuss the situation publicly, to giving Gallas the chance to prove himself again as a pure defender. Like it or not, Gallas strengthens our squad, but making it clear that he will never captain the club again ensures that restoring him to the side is not an act of weakness.
And as for the choice of replacement, it is the right one, but there were a few other ways Wenger could’ve gone. The first would be not to appoint a new permanent captain, but that would’ve made it difficult to put the whole situation to bed. The second would be to choose a more senior player, at least in terms of age. Almunia is simply the eldest, Toure is not an automatic choice in defence any more, and as for the other realistic contender, Clichy is perhaps too quiet. Besides, can you really see Clichy leading a team with Gallas in it?
But Fabregas has, for a couple of years now, been the heartbeat of this side, and everything about him belies his still tender years. He is a leader on and off the pitch, and is probably the most natural extension of the manager we have, a crucial factor in his appointment. Some say he is too young, but he is being given the armband at the same age as Tony Adams.
His first week won’t be his easiest, but you just get the feeling he likes it that way.
Wenger has quite rightly come under fire over the past few months, for his transfer activity and then his retention of Gallas as captain. But this week, he has again shown that he is the one in charge, and is perfectly capable of being brutal when required.
I can see a turning point coming. I really can.