To those recently departed; Oh Captain, My Captain.
This piece was originally run back in June, but now it’s been confirmed that another Arsenal captain has upped sticks and crept off to join Arselona, I thought I would update it.
“O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! Heart! Heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.”
Ok, maybe a tad overdramatic, but you catch my drift. Since Big Tone held the role, the armband hasn’t pulled at the heart strings of the owner enough to lead them to stay and fight for the cause and hold the position in the esteem it deserves.
The Captains Log:
TONY ADAMS: 1988 – 2002
After taking over from Kenny Sansom in 1988, Tony became the most successful captain in the club’s history.
As captain, he won the league title four times (1988/89, 1990/91, 1997/98 & 2001/02), the FA Cup three times (1993, 1998 & 2002), the League Cup in 1993, the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994 and obviously two doubles in 98 & 02.
He spent a total of 22 years at the club, with 14 of them as captain. Tony epitomised what a loyal captain should be and since this point no one has lived up to that benchmark.
PATRICK VIEIRA: 2002 – 2005
The only obvious replacement to Big Tony, Patrick was promoted from captain of vice on Adam’s retirement.
PV4 became the first foreign player to skipper the club and his uncompromising attitude on the pitch, provided the inspiration to players and fans alike.
Paddy’s success was up there with Tony’s, becoming the only modern day captain to lead a team to the league title unbeaten in 03/04.
Following up the FA Cup win in 2003, Vieria’s final act for Arsenal was to score the winning penalty against Brand United in the 2005 cup final, before scurrying off for a big payday at Juve.
Paddy finally committed his final act of betrayal to the armband by becoming Roberto Mancini’s ‘chief scout’ and advising Middle Eastlands on which Arsenal player to poach next.
THIERRY HENRY: 2005 – 2007
With no obvious choice, Arsene Wenger went with the ‘best player, best captain’ option when appointing TH14.
Thierry does hold the record as the only Arsenal player to lead the side out in a Champions League final, but he never won a trophy as the holder of the armband and then followed Patrick’s lead, deserting the post and hopped on the Barca bandwagon to chase glory.
WILLIAM GALLAS: 2007 – 2008
Probably the worst choice for captain. Upon Thierry’s departure, Billy criticised the club’s managerial policies and Arsene deemed that justification enough to appoint him as captain. This was presumably an attempt to convince Gallas to stay at the club? Or just a mind melt.
Billy’s policy as captain was bizarre at best, criticising team mates for “not being brave enough In battle”, having a half-time bust up during the Spuds game and to top it all, a full on ‘toys out of the pram’ moment at the end of the infamous Birmingham game.
‘Billy le Sulk’ was relieved of his duties after one season and not surprisingly, didn’t add any trophies during his tenure.
CESC FABREGAS: 2008 – 2011
Another case of ‘best player, best captain’, Cesc took over the reins. His remit to attempt to heal the hurt caused by Gallas and lead to young Arsenal side to greater heights.
CF4 lead Arsenal to the Champions League semi-final in 2009 and at one stage in the 2011 season was looking at a possible quadruple of trophies, until the ‘forgone conclusion’ of a League Cup final against Birmingham City went south and the season crumbled from there on in.
Then, as now seems the norm, a big money move (again, to Barça) came along and on August 15th 2011 Arsenal were without their captain once more.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE: 2011 – 2012
Arsene followed his adopted policy and passed the mantle onto RvP, to again gel the club and lead us onto to glory. His task to reunite the team after Cesc and Na$ri’s departures wasn’t an easy one, but it seemed to work after a late influx of transfers.
Robin managed (probably his first) a season free of injury and in the process picked up the Premier League Golden Boot, PFA and Writers’ Player of the Season, but again this did not lead to team glory. A creditable third spot was the eventual outcome, following the ignominy of 7 points from our first 7 games and the disaster against Brand United.
But, again, as momentum seemed to be growing and optimism for next season was at a high, another captain drops another bombshell and on July 4th 2012 Robin declared his ‘Independence Day’ and announced he would not be signing a new contract at Arsenal before eventually buggering off to Brand United.
THOMAS VERMAELEN: 2012 – 2014
And now, after picking up Arsenals first trophy in 9 years, The Verminator has followed Henry and Cesc on the well-trodden path from Arsenal to Arselona.
In six seasons, TV has gone from one of the EPL’s top defenders to scrabbling around waiting for an injury to get a game. It’s obviously been tough sitting on the bench, earning £80k a week (!) but he decreed he didn’t believe in the armband enough and decided not to stay and fight to regain his form and his place.
And so now we are left with a big choice. Wenger has chosen Mikel Arteta and, even though he has picked up a trophy in his week at work, he could be another non-playing captain come September.
So I believe Arsene should reconsider, for in my eyes, there is really only one candidate….
When the opportunity has arisen he has shown Tony-esque qualities in his leadership and he not scared to bawl out anyone on the team who doesn’t pull their weight, world class superstar or not and (I believe) he will stay, fight for the privilege to wear the armband and see the job through to the upcoming trophy haul.
The BFG, My Captain, Oh Captain.