This past month, and in particular past week, has seen Wenger and his charges confront ups and downs of a quite erratic portion. From the loss to Stoke, to the win against Manchester United, to the loss at home against a feisty Villa, all signs point to dressing room discord. Indeed, this was the speculation of most gooners, and it seems these fears are not wide of the mark.
As most fans now know, Gallas has had his say on the past events. Staying true to form, he does not hold back on his opinion. In fact, he is perhaps the most candid captain in the Premier League. When Gallas is in the news, he is usually in the news for the wrong reasons. Now, I do not want to join the ever-growing anti-Gallas bandwagon, however said bandwagon has a lot of members for a reason. William Gallas is, never has been, or never will be captain material. Arsene Wenger made him captain on experience alone.
Wenger rarely plays the wrong card. He has been around the block a few times. Now, that is not to say he has not ignored popular opinion, but when Wenger makes the big decisions, he usually gets them right. However, there is a growing case that William Gallas does not deserve the captaincy. He neither has the right mentality nor the respect of his teammates to fulfill such a role. His spirit, fight, and attitude cannot be questioned when it comes to performing your best; although he has had his fair share of bad days, you can rarely question his commitment. The only evidence against that statement is his tantrum against Birmingham last year. However, his clearance after Ashley Young’s penalty suggests he learned from his mistake. Nevertheless, his attitude as a captain can be questioned. Somep players are naturally meant to be captains and have the right mentality. Gallas seemingly does not.
Getting back to the point, it appears Gallas’s days as captain are numbered. One can never know what really goes on behind the scenes, but it would be fair to guess that Wenger has had a word or two with him over the past year in regards to things he may have said or done. Wenger is a man of patience and second-chances, but he is not an idiot. Although stubborn, he will eventually make the hard decision, ‘eventually’ being the key term. After this recent statement from Gallas, and the subsequent recall of him on the part of Wenger, one can speculate that there will be an exchanging of ideas between the manager and captain, to put it nicely. If I were to guess, and I am, I would say Wenger is going to question him closely, and really make a character reassessment of his captain.
Tying all this into Arsenal’s performances of late, it is clear there is frustration in the squad. The citation of van Persie’s inexplicably petulant outburst at Stoke is a good example. While Arsenal did not play their best against Villa, they were not lethargic and uninterested as against Stoke. On other occasions, they might have snatched a draw. There is surely growing frustration and discord stemming from locker-room bust-ups and unjust reward for their performances. After the Spurs game, there were widespread reports of locker-room shouting matches and frayed tempers. Now, Gallas’s revelation of another bust-up with a 25-year old player shows that he has completely lost all authority as captain. Another example of locker-room disharmony would be Cesc’s form. After losing Hleb, Flamini, and Senderos, Cesc lost all his closest friends. While I did post earlier that I believe Cesc was disinterested or disillusioned, perhaps it is because he misses the spirit that was in our team last year.
In short, Wenger has to make a big decision: do I persist with Gallas when it hasn’t worked and is currently not working, or do I appoint someone else captain and sell Gallas this winter? Surely, the hypothetical departure of Gallas could not do much more harm than his presence has done. While it would be interesting to get in a finger-pointing game, the truth is that Gallas, whether his fault or not, is a figure of controversy. Although experienced, he is disrupting harmony that is so vital in such a young team. There are other figures in the team who play more consistently, and with better attitudes, that could be captain. Whether Wenger chooses the now or the later to make this decision remains to be seen.
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