Wenger makes a statement with Fabregas appointment

November 25, 2008

Arsene Wenger’s appointment of Cesc Fabregas as captain is more than just a strategic move, designed to ward off Barcelona attempts to recover the one that got away. The decision also says something significant about the way Wenger sees Arsenal Football Club. 

Wenger has changed the youth system, the players’ diets and the style of play and he has now appointed a captain made in the image of another gifted Catalan, Josep Guardiola i Sala.

The first time I was in a room listening to Wenger speak was after a Champions League game between Barcelona and Arsenal in 1999. Arsenal had just managed to claim a 1-1 draw, despite being comprehensively outplayed in the first half, and Wenger was extolling the virtues of Barca’s then captain.

“Guardiola was technically perfect,” he said, with something of a “purr” in his voice. “In the first half we tried to close him down to stop him using the ball but that didn’t work. In the second we just had to stop the ball getting to him in the first place.”*

Here’s what Wenger said when asked about the position of captain this week: “I don’t believe too much in leadership. I believe more in good passing than a guy who jumps around with his hands in the air and plays the leader.”

In England, where the captaincy often goes to the most ‘inspirational’ player, Wenger’s words probably sound strange but, thinking back nine years, I can’t help feeling Fabregas, a ball-playing midfielder who commands respect by the way he plays and leads by example, is the captain Wenger has wanted all along.

And if the move helps him recover his outstanding form of last season, and keeps Barcelona at bay for a year or two more, so much the better.

PHOTO: Gallas and Fabregas attend a team training session in London Colney, Nov 24, 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh

* I paraphrase, of course. It was a memorable quote, but nine years is a long time…


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With the Italy national side for example, the most capped player is always made captain even if he has useless motivational qualities.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Irrespective of whether this was a move to protect Fabregas from the lure of Barcelona, think it was a good decision by Wenger. reckon he is the best man to lead this young team forward.
Gallas was never the right captain.
What he said was probably right but the way he did it wasn’t.
Since then though he seems to have conducted himself well, and I just have a feeling it might have all galvanised the side and they could beat Chelsea on Sunday. If they get beaten, I don’t care what anyone says, it will already be down to a 3 horse race for the title.