One of the first decisions that Unai Emery will have to make once Arsenal have concluded their transfer business is to decide who will be the next captain. The armband has been a bit of a poisoned chalice under Wenger as once promoted the captains usually hardly ever get seen on the pitch!
Per Mertesacker was the latest one and he started a total of 7 League games in the last two years, so ‘quiet man’ Laurent Koscielny was his deputy on the pitch. Now the veteran Frenchman is regularly plagued by injury and he is not expected to be available to play until Christmas, so surely he can’t be considered?
The ex-Gunners striker Kevin Campbell thinks that Emery will have a problem finding a leader amongst the current crop of players. “I think you look at leadership in two different ways. Everyone talks about the leaders like Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira, but those players are not easily available,” Campbell told ESPN FC.
“I think the second way you can get leadership is through organisation. When different parts of the team are functioning properly, players within that system will be the leader. And I believe that’s the way Unai Emery is going to do it.
“I think they’ll be well drilled, there’ll be certain triggers, and in order to have a trigger you’re going to have to be able to communicate.
“And that’s where certain players are going to have to take that leadership role on. The Tony Adams days, the Patrick Vieira, etc., Arsenal won’t have that type of player. But I think it will be a more organised structure.”
“There were certain things that never got addressed,” Campbell continued. “We always talk about how the spine of the team got weaker.
“But really, the issue was that Arsenal without the ball just didn’t have that structure, especially away from home because that’s when you rely on your actual system, your structure, and the players being able to implement what the manager wants.
“We were just so open at times it was scary. I’m sure Unai Emery will definitely make that side of the team a lot better.”
Nowadays we have no obvious leader like Tony Adams, and Campbell thinks they are not so easy to find at Arsenal presently. “You’ve got to look at the time and the players who were there [in Adams’ time]. The leader had to be strong and had to be someone who was fierce and fearless.
“Because as a team we were fierce and fearless. So your leader couldn’t be soft. Your leader had to be tough and a permanent member of that squad.
“But for the last four, five years, Arsenal went soft, and it’s showed itself in the league standings.
“Aaron Ramsey ticks quite a lot of boxes [as captain]. He’s one of the longest-serving players in the first team. If there’s a structure, Aaron Ramsey could be that guy.
“But I wouldn’t put it past Unai Emery going out and finding a player that fits his criteria, who can come in and lead the football club.”
So that was a very reasonable assessment of our need for a leader, but if Emery doesn’t try and bring a natural leader from outside the club, do you think Ramsey should be the prime candidate?