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Wenger wise to appoint Fabregas

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Phil McNulty | 13:56 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Arsene Wenger's theory on captaincy is that the era of a single team leader has gone - an out-moded figure made extinct by the demands of the modern game.

I was at the Emirates to hear Wenger outline his beliefs after Arsenal's outstanding win against Manchester United fended off those who felt his side lacked leadership.

This is what he said: "I don't agree any more with people who say you need a leader. Football is so quick that you need shared leadership. The time when centre-backs could just talk is over because the game is too quick."

I disagreed with him then - and maybe Wenger himself is having second thoughts after appointing Cesc Fabregas as captain in place of William Gallas.

Wenger correctly stripped Gallas of the captaincy after an outspoken outburst against his team-mates that may have had its place in the privacy of a dressing room but never in public.

And Wenger has now suggested he does believe in having a leader after all by turning to Fabregas, Arsenal's most inspirational figure, as his new captain.

If Wenger genuinely believed he did not need a leader, Gallas's pointed criticism of his team and a growing crisis has forced him to change his mind.

Fabregas is not in the mould of the old-fashioned, fist-pumping captain - but every team needs a symbol and Wenger will look to the 21-year-old Spaniard for the sort of leadership he appeared to dismiss recently.

The brilliant youngster must be a talisman in the mould of Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, a player his team-mates can look to in times of trouble, the sort of figure Wenger suggested was out-dated in today's game.

Gallas was a flawed choice as captain. He is too combustible and indiscreet a figure, not a natural front man for a club of Arsenal's style.

I recall one France press conference when he publicly and pointedly ignored a question from an English journalist claiming he could not speak the language - despite being swiftly (but politely) reminded by the journalist that he had interviewed him without problems on many occasions.

Gallas, sadly, was an accident waiting to happen.

He should have gone after his infamous sit-in at Birmingham City last season - behaviour that appalled BBC Sport football expert Alan Hansen - and appeared to fly in the face of Wenger's regime of strict physical discipline by being seen smoking recently.

Fabregas is a relentlessly positive personality, a player coveted by every major club in the world and someone who represents the bright Arsenal future Wenger hopes to build.

Cesc Fabregas

And his elevation to the captaincy may just help cement Fabregas to Arsenal as Real Madrid and Barcelona watch for any sign of wavering in his loyalty.

He will relish the new responsibility and the challenge of proving Arsenal are not slipping into terminal decline, merely suffering a temporary slump that he will help them snap out of.

Ironically, how Gallas reacts to being stripped of the captaincy may play a major part in how successful Fabregas is in the short term.

Gallas, for any perceived personal faults, is an outstanding defender when motivated - anyone who saw his display against Manchester United recently will testify to his talent.

If he takes his demotion badly, then he will be a malign figure who will need to be removed.

Wenger faces a huge test now to get Arsenal's season back to some semblance of normality after a madcap period, started with the ridiculous concession of two points to neighbours Spurs at home and then that infamous defeat at Stoke.

Some Arsenal fans have questioned whether Wenger's time is up at Arsenal, making fair points to back up their arguments.

He should have strengthened in the summer when Gilberto Silva, Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb left Arsenal and we have already questioned his decision to hand the captaincy to Gallas.

But answer me this? Who is better placed or better qualified to handle these current struggles than Wenger? Name the manager who could succeed him and be more successful?

And does he not deserve to be cut some slack after all he has achieved?

Rest assured, if Wenger left Arsenal tomorrow there are plenty of football fans (and clubs the world over) who would welcome him on Wednesday.

True, he currently has some ground to make up - but the appointment of Fabregas as captain is a step in the right direction.


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  • 1. At 4:03pm on 24 Nov 2008, rs wrote:

    Wenger shows the signs of never winning anything again at Arsenal because he refused to buy the best players and this blind method of management hasnt worked and wont.

    Arsenal have a few trouble makers in van persie and adebayor. Ive seen adebayor at the world cup shouting at all his teammates. Van P has fallen out with many dutch players so he is hardly a great leader.

    Arsenal have no captains in the team and an armband doesnt just make you one. They need experienced players and Wenger wont buy them, so Arsenal will never win anything until they get rid of Wenger or Wenger changes his views.

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  • 2. At 4:05pm on 24 Nov 2008, boomshakalak wrote:

    "But answer me this? Who is better placed or better qualified to handle these current struggles than Wenger? Name the manager who could succeed him and be more successful?"

    Sir Alex Ferguson

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  • 3. At 4:06pm on 24 Nov 2008, mybloodwasinjectedintomefromacanon wrote:

    Not a bad article and i was really starting to appreciate what you were saying up until the point where you said "football expert alan hansen" after that i only read a few lines because my train of thought had waivered of into me having fits of laughter.

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  • 4. At 4:08pm on 24 Nov 2008, MarcaDaddy wrote:

    I couldn't agree more. I remember the days when teams only had to look at our teamsheet and they were almost already defeated.

    I think it would be churlish to suggest Wengers time is up, (Piers Morgan really needs to stop that talk) but I do think his single mindedness has cost us this season so far. I was not worried at the start of the season, knowing that we wouldn't do too well in all competitions and thinking that this will be another year of the team gelling and learning but victories agains Man. Utd. and impressive displays aginst Fenerbahce inspired confidence and had me thinking something just might happen.

    But some of the woeful displays in between and have just confirmed my fears that we are not destined for silverware this season.
    I don't blame Wenger as much as I blame the team. There is too much individuality and not enough togetherness to be able to fight for each other. How many times would you see the whole team surround the opposition if one of their colleagues was being harshly treated in the past? It just doesn't happen anymore. We have no fight in our belly, no fire in our eyes and it is becoming all too easy for other teams to exploit that weakness.

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  • 5. At 4:08pm on 24 Nov 2008, VelasChippingFoot wrote:

    Good blog. Nice to see someone backing Wenger, and I'd agree, nobody is better suited to get us out of this turmoil than he.
    Fabregas is undoubtedly the right choice for captain, I always backed Gallas as a player but after Birmingham he just wasn't right for the job anymore.
    Nice to hear positive words about us too, not many would be able to take the angle you have Phil. I look forward to your next one.

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  • 6. At 4:10pm on 24 Nov 2008, ArunRedDevils wrote:

    Media needs lessons on the game !!! When Arsenal beat Wigan in Carling cup, their 2nd team was talked in high circles. One game gone now, and they are being criticized. If Media can have some consistency on the way they look at a game, then Clubs would be much better off. Nope, not an Arsenal fan, but I do love the game....Being a ManUtd fan, still have great respect for Wenger for the kind of football that he brings on to the pitch. I guess, he is good with kids, but, not comfortable to have big name players in team.....or he just has too big an ego that he wants to show the world that he can win with kids !!! only SAF can do that...

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  • 7. At 4:11pm on 24 Nov 2008, skybluedave24 wrote:

    Brilliant comment Phil to all the Arsenal fans debating if Wenger's time is up

    "Name a manager who could succeed him and be more successful?"

    Cant think of anyone! However i do feel he has to change his approach if he is to be more successful in the league in terms of his transfer policy. Spending big on a defensive midfielder is vital to release or free up Fabregas to a more offence role to control attacking plays

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  • 8. At 4:11pm on 24 Nov 2008, Gunnerflow wrote:

    I think appointing Cesc is the best thing to do at the moment. There should be no questions over his ability to lead the team, because he has shown GREAT leadership skills on the pitch. I think questioning Wenger's future is a bit immature, honestly who can we bring in at the moment, not that there are no "good enough" managers but because, Mr. Wenger is in the process of bringing up a Family of future invincible's. The appointment of Cesc, should be the RISE of Gallas, and the START of Arsenal's season...a win at Stamford Bridge should surely be the perfect start.
    -Its not yet over- fellow Gunners.

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  • 9. At 4:12pm on 24 Nov 2008, Vox Populi wrote:

    Fabregas is a prodigal talent and a great professional.

    But it's too early for him to be captain of a Premiership club like Arsenal. He is also a very quiet, relaxed and almost introverted person.

    It's a bit like Man Utd making Ryan Giggs (a similar type of character) captain when he was only 21. They would never have done it, and he would not have been cut it out for it.

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  • 10. At 4:14pm on 24 Nov 2008, Tatloaf wrote:

    The Ashley Cole swap deal looks better and better every day!

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  • 11. At 4:16pm on 24 Nov 2008, liamsmasterplan wrote:

    Wenger has got it spot on in making Cesc skipper and bringing Gallas quickly back in to the fold.

    He trained hard throughout the weekend without complaint so his reaction has been spot on.

    One thing Phil, Arsenal fans gave up caring what Alan Hansen says about the Arsenal a long time ago. Today again he has been slaughtering us whilst completely failing to acknowledge the 9 first team players we had missing. It'd be a different story if it was his precious Liverpool.

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  • 12. At 4:16pm on 24 Nov 2008, kingdomoffear wrote:

    I think Keano summed it up really, all the people who are calling for Wenger's head are people that either are a) in the press, or b) pundits. Wenger doesn't need to go, the board should step up and remind him, that whilst he has room to develop his team in the way he decides is best, blooding 18-21 year olds (with the exception of Fabregas) in the Premiership, and then letting them go when they ask for "too much" money, probably won't do him any favours. A bit of discipline is needed, and Gallas was right in what he said, he choice of forum was appauling, but we all make mistakes. AW must take the stick for under estimating how much Flamini did last year. Nasri looks a good replacement for Hleb, but Denilson looks short in the centre, and Fabregas doesn't have the foil to push on as he once did. Yes some criticism is due to all parts of the team, shoudl anyone be let go of? No, not yet at least.

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  • 13. At 4:16pm on 24 Nov 2008, Chezdon wrote:

    Fabregas will be gone by the end of the year so it doesn't really matter. Their chances of silverware this year have gone, and most of the team will follow.

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  • 14. At 4:18pm on 24 Nov 2008, Gunner Do you All wrote:

    I think Cesc will do well in the future I'm just worried if we were to buy a couple of seasoned pros how well they would work playing under Cesc as he is still very young. The problem is that we have no1 else which really highlights the lack of depth in our squad. Wenger needs to buy in January and then hopefully limp to 4th spot and then just start afresh next season with a big clear out!The likes of Denilson,Bendtner and Eboue shouldn't be anywhere near our first team and Gallas's out burst will hopefully mean questions on our squad will now be answered! What he said was right if only he had done it differently he wouldn't be so ridiculed in the papers rather than being praised like he should be!!

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  • 15. At 4:21pm on 24 Nov 2008, TheOriginalPillow wrote:

    No matter what happens now any realist Arsenal fan must concede defeat in the title race.

    I'm a Liverpool fan and i'm HOPING our team can keep up with Chelsea (no evidence so far except past seasons to say we can't) to the end whereas you know Chelsea and Utd fans are rightly confident that they will be in the hunt come the last few games.

    However, the gunners have shown that they are vulnerable - the whole world can see they need a Flamini-type in there as well as the central defender - and you can't deny that they won't drop more silly points along the way without these players.

    My mate who's an Arsenal fan has put it in its most simple form when he said they've too many footballers and not enough kickers!

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  • 16. At 4:22pm on 24 Nov 2008, Frimpong from Tooting wrote:

    Wenger said: "Fabregas will be the captain, permanently. I do not have to explain to you why."

    He added: "I believe the captain is the voice of the club towards the outside, and is one of the leaders of the team.

    "However, I do not believe in just one man in the dressing-room who sorts out all of the problems.

    "A successful team is a shared leadership inside the dressing room. Fabregas will be one of the leaders, but not the only one."

    Where in any of the above has Wenger "changed his mind" on shared leadership? Where has he suggested he now believes in having a leader?

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  • 17. At 4:24pm on 24 Nov 2008, beto1960 wrote:

    Like many others I dont think Arsenal have many candidates to be captain. Although Toure would probably be better than Fabregas.
    Gareth Barry would have been an excellent captain if Wenger had bought him in the summer, it bemuses me why he did not while he had the chance.

    As for the comments about Alan Hansen. Personally I enjoy his column and believe him to be an "expert".
    I can remember him playing , for me he was a world class centreback , Ricardo Carvalho reminds me of a Hansen.
    The only differences are that Carvalho is quicker , but Hansen was better bringing the ball out of defence.

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  • 18. At 4:25pm on 24 Nov 2008, HighburyHead wrote:


    "Arsenal will never win anything until they get rid of Wenger or Wenger changes his views"

    Oh dear oh dear.

    Obviously none of the trophies Wenger has one Arsenal in the past have anything to do with these views?!

    Wenger made a mistake to not replace Flamini in the Summer fair enough but such a statement like the one you have made is absolute crap.

    4 Points away from the title last year which barring severe injuries and some shocking referring decisions would have led Arsenal to the title.

    Only two players left that were regulars last year; Hleb, who Nasri has replaced very well and Flamini who needs to be replaced.

    Other than that Wenger couldn't have predicted the actions of Gallas and drop in form of the defence as a whole, who by the way in the form of Clichy and Sagna had two of the best defenders in the league last year.

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  • 19. At 4:25pm on 24 Nov 2008, The Unused Substitute wrote:

    I see Fabregas being a captain in a similar mould to Lampard when he steps in as captain for Chelsea. Not the most vocal, but the kind of player that will do his bit for the team, either by scoring a goal or dominating the middle of the park.

    Overall, I'd say Wenger has made a sensible decision. It could even inspire Arsenal for the rest of the season.

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  • 20. At 4:30pm on 24 Nov 2008, DougCoglan wrote:

    I concede defeat in the title race. But I knew that when we didn't buy a strong centre back and a replacement for Flamini.

    Wenger has built everything at Arsenal. He hasn't had the marketing machines money like Man Utd have or the sell-out millions brought in by a foreign owner... and he has won titles at Arsenal.

    The fact that Real Madrid are being tipped to try and steal him tells you everything about how class he is as a manager. The stats may not show it because there isn't a column for fighting the odds but he is the best manager you'll find.

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  • 21. At 4:32pm on 24 Nov 2008, My Brazilname is "Seiano". wrote:

    Wnger needs to sort out his front line, not his captain. The amount of chances that they create, they should be winning 4-0 at least. I sugest Martins from Newcastle. Get shot ot Ade and V.Persie

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  • 22. At 4:33pm on 24 Nov 2008, Abou's Gammy Lip wrote:

    Cesc will prove an excellent leader. His authority as a leader will derive not from, as Wenger put it, "waving his arms and shouting" like a John Terry type character, but from the fact that he is the creative hub of the team. The fact that all our attacks are channeled through Cesc makes him an obvious focal point for the team.

    I agree with Wenger that we make too much of captaincy in this country. In Italy, they count up who's played the most games for the club or been there longest and hand him the armband!

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  • 23. At 4:35pm on 24 Nov 2008, footiefan011 wrote:

    i cant see arsenal ever winning anything again under wenger if he refuses to buy the best players as at least a foundation to his young team.

    we do not talk of how young man utds attack is because it has very experienced people at the centre making the right decisions

    fabgergas is a good choice as captain but it wont change anything

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  • 24. At 4:36pm on 24 Nov 2008, Wordsaretheanswer wrote:

    Actually, there are a number of managers that could step in and win trophies at Arsenal in the next couple of years.

    All it would require is any one of a number of the top managers from around Britain or Europe (or even a lesser light such as Wenger upon his arrival), and a bit of speculation in the transfer window.

    Arsenal have been in need of some extra strength in depth for a while now, and Wenger has refused to put his hand in the kitty to rectify this.

    He has a more than handy 1st X1 at his disposal. However their replacements, in many cases, are simply not up to scratch for a team chasing trophies in this day and age.

    That said, Wenger has most certainly earnt the right to have a chance to turn things around, although some would say that a couple of years without trophies is quite long enough.

    Perhaps his failure to put right the glaring failings that surfaced near the end of last season's campaign will come back to haunt him?

    I do feel that the author of this otherwise well written article let himself down a little by congratulating himself for suggesting that Gallas should be stripped of the captaincy in a previous article. I appreciate that writers are encouraged to place these links in an attempt to get more clicks on their work, but in this case gave the impression of gloating.

    Peace out

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  • 25. At 4:40pm on 24 Nov 2008, highthief wrote:

    Wenger is one of the top 5 managers in football - to dump him would be madness.

    He does have one managerial weakness however - and that is in how he lets loose canons like Gallas, Lehmann, Henry, etc, just shoot their mouths of. There doesn't seem to be that strong team discipline off the pitch and that's a problem of Wenger's own devising to some extent.

    As for Fabregas as captain - I'm not convinced, although he might be the best option currently available.

    Arsenal is lacking a Gerrard or Carragher, a Terry, a Giggs or Neville - a guy who is Arsenal through and through. I still get the feeling Fabregas might be on a plane to Barca next year.

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  • 26. At 4:46pm on 24 Nov 2008, HighburyHead wrote:

    only forward there is an ability problem is Bendtner.

    Van Persie and Ade have the potential to form a devastating partnership, which if they manage to avoid anymore serious injuries could really determine how our season goes.

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  • 27. At 4:46pm on 24 Nov 2008, whatbill wrote:

    I think its the best decision Wenger could come to. Given his age its a bit of a gamble but Arsenal need a lift and Fabregas can give them that.

    I wonder how long Gallas will last. In the short term they need him in the team but unless he has a major change in attitude I can't see him staying beyond the end of the season.

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  • 28. At 4:47pm on 24 Nov 2008, Fenman622 wrote:

    Wenger has made mistakes - but I wouldn't want any other manager in the world.

    Gallas' departure as captain feels like a relief. I'm not sure that I could now trust his fragile temperament to give everything as a player.

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  • 29. At 4:50pm on 24 Nov 2008, antiblazer wrote:

    I will go with Wenger, whatever he decides, I find all criticism of him both uniformed and infantile. We should be very proud that he chose to grace the game in this country and for the expertise he has provided to our game.

    It would a very sad day if the silly nonsense in the media drove him away as I see no up and coming coach capable of cleaning his boots let alone filling them.

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  • 30. At 4:54pm on 24 Nov 2008, rubertos_08 wrote:

    nice blog and as usual well informed

    totally agree that fabregas is a step in the right direction but its a pretty bad state of affairs when the most headstrong player with the best leadership skills is a 21 year old!

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  • 31. At 4:54pm on 24 Nov 2008, giggsy11-90 wrote:

    2. At 4:05pm on 24 Nov 2008, boomshakalak wrote:

    "But answer me this? Who is better placed or better qualified to handle these current struggles than Wenger? Name the manager who could succeed him and be more successful?"

    Sir Alex Ferguson

    spot on !!

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  • 32. At 4:54pm on 24 Nov 2008, aka_bluepeter wrote:

    Does Wenger refuse to buy the most expensive players or is he unable to because Arsenal just don't have the dough.
    I don't know if it's just me but it always seem so entertaining beating him because he tries so hard to deflect criticism and make light of defeats but fails so miserably to hide his crushing utterly abject disappointment.
    Arsene your not British so don't try to be, just let the tears flow and we'll all love you.....3-0 3-0 3-0 3-0

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  • 33. At 4:54pm on 24 Nov 2008, jonesstrikesback wrote:

    Phil, Its a step in the right direction for arsenal because there is no one else in their first team who can do it or be able to command respect. Try and name me someone other than the Spaniard who could do it? I fear for arsenal and Im a chelsea man.... although I fear for a bounce from the gooners in the next game.
    One thing though, do you honestly believe that being captain is going to stop a player like Fabregas leaving if his boyhood Spanish side comes in for him? Barcelona and Real are bigger and more successful clubs than Arsenal... Sorry Gooners... I think not because he will have done all he can at Arsenal, including captaining them.. Ok so some trophies in North London might help the Spainsh giants prize him away but it looks highly unlikely at present they'll win anything this year.
    As for Hanson being an expert? mmmmm.... John Motson is an expert as are the teams who provide the presenters the stats they read parrot fashion out on air! Have I given away a telly secret? ooooppppppsss

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  • 34. At 4:55pm on 24 Nov 2008, CantonasCollar79 wrote:

    As for "name a Manager who would be more successful?" - J.O.S.E. M.O.U.R.I.N.H.O. just to spell it out. He would clearly be more successful.

    Wenger had been great for Arsenal's youth. Indeed he is clearly the best youth-Team manager they have ever produced. But that's not his job, although his reluctance to replace established first-team footballers and therefore create a side capable of ending a four-year trophy drought of his own making would suggest he prefers the role of developing young talent to that of trying to win the EPL,CL, FA Cup, or heckfire, even the Carling Cup.

    Although bringing the youngsters through is admirable, that is the job of the youth team manager at the age at which Wenger seems unable to resist meddling with, and he should have spent the £30m his chief executive told him was available in the summer (don't you just love a club who wash not just a few smalls in public, but the whole darn washbag?) His stoic refusal to do that coupled with his CLEARLY WRONG belief that Arsenal can win the title with the youth team has been his downfall. I'm sure they won't, and as United supporter who could do with one less team in the title race every year I hope they won't bring in Mourinho to sort this mess out.

    Long may the media continue to eulogise over Arsenal's supposedly "beautiful football" while anyone who watched them on Saturday would have struggled to find much beauty in yet another calamitous capitulation.

    Mourinho would have bought a midfielder (Muntari did for Inter) and a striker (there's an abundance out there) and got the best out of Gallas for fear of being booted out of the club. What does Wenger do? Reinstate the smoking buffoon post-haste.

    C'est ludicrous.

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  • 35. At 4:55pm on 24 Nov 2008, alturay wrote:

    I'm a Liverpool fan but I like this decision. Fabregas is going to become a much better player now.

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  • 36. At 4:57pm on 24 Nov 2008, ToastedHeretic wrote:

    Good one, Phil, this is not the time for Piers Morgan's Wenger Must Go nonsense. We're not Real Madrid, for goodness' sake!

    Anyway, I'd like to add a few interesting anecdotes, just to back up what others have been either suggesting or saying: I share an apartment with a Dutchman who trained Van Persie in one of the Ajax youth teams and his opinion of him leaves a lot to be desired. "Difficult" and "Prima Donna" are the best of the epithets.

    As regards that other waste of valuable space, (no, it's not Gallas, all gunners will know who I mean) a few bloggers have already let it be known that himself and Cesc do not get on, and indeed have had rows in the dressing room. Wenger probably knows there's bad blood between them too, and now that the young Catalan has to step up to the plate - which he certainly can, he's not the shy and retiring bloke submarine thinks he is ( he brushed off the last penalty against Italy for the Spanish media saying " I do that every day on the training ground") someone else whose ego is proabably too big too fit into Ashburton Grove may finally, oh let us pray, sling his hook in January!
    Animo Cesc, Visca el Arsenal!!

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  • 37. At 4:58pm on 24 Nov 2008, cov1985 wrote:

    Compared to other sports, a football captain has very little responsibility.

    Rugby captains are the only players on the pitch to speak to the referee and act as a bridge between referee and players.

    Cricket captains have to set the field etc.

    What do football captains do? Try and motivate the team? Well surely anybody in the team who is capable of doing that should be doing that whether they are captain or not.

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  • 38. At 5:00pm on 24 Nov 2008, Adam_Gr wrote:

    We get used of English culture when they dislike or like something, media plays great role in demolition of someone’s ability, as if the reporters could do something when they are on the field, they used to know more than the managers, they have not been questioning about Gallas ability on the field but they use to scrutiny all the evils they think, if 3 mistakes irrelevant in the football, makes the skipper out of his role, then how many should we count for managers? After Gallas who will they choose to go? It’s true as Shakespeare said:” evils that men do, lives after them, but the good things go through their bones when they die"

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  • 39. At 5:07pm on 24 Nov 2008, goonergetit wrote:

    "you only sing when you're winning" No Spirit, no belief, just irate gluttonus consumers who want it now. We're two points behind Man Utd and done this with half the team missing. Get rid of him, sell him, buy him, Wenger this, Wenger that. This is a great side in the making. When all the squad is fit and Wilshire and co step up to the plate will you be wanting more? Yes you will because you've no Gunners spirit, no belief, no backbone, gluttonus consumers that "only sing when they're winning"

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  • 40. At 5:08pm on 24 Nov 2008, DougCoglan wrote:


    - you're right, that question needs to be posed. Anybody would think we were in the middle of a global credit crunch or something...

    People need to start walking in Ronnie Real Street.

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  • 41. At 5:09pm on 24 Nov 2008, goonergetit wrote:

    Another reason that FAB has been named Capitain is because when we have a fully fit squad he's the only player that will have a good chance of being selected on a regular basis, because we will have the best competitive squad in the league ! Watch Out!

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  • 42. At 5:10pm on 24 Nov 2008, Mersonwastheperson wrote:

    "But answer me this? Who is better placed or better qualified to handle these current struggles than Wenger? Name the manager who could succeed him and be more successful?"

    My sentiments exactly.
    As I have stated on 606 previously, Wenger is not your 'average' manager - he is a man on a mission.
    I have faith that he will resurrect Arsenal's season in some form (be it fourth place in the Premier League or the Carling Cup) but it's unlikely that we will be pushing Chelsea or whoever come the end of the season. I just know that he is developing our club for the future.
    Too many people - and I include some Arsenal fans in this - want instant success at all costs. That's all well and good, but we currently don't have the squad or the money to do this.
    The main thing is that the club becomes solvent, retains a solid structure and remains in the top four.
    Wenger is the man to achieve this, and should (God-forbid) he go, Arsenal will be in a much bigger hole than they are now.

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  • 43. At 5:20pm on 24 Nov 2008, Nick wrote:

    I can't believe there are so many Arsenal fans and other people calling for Wenger to go. Unlike some people here he has done an amazing job at Arsenal with limited money available. All too quickly people have forgotten the invincibles and the 2 doubles he's won. Give him your backing.

    Yes Wenger has made some mistakes but Phil has got it right with this blog. Cesc is the right person for the job. Maybe it will help us keep him in the future. He might not be the shouting type like Keane was and Terry is but I'm sure he can get the other players inspired and playing together.

    Yes we need some more experienced players which is why I am puzzled that he should Gilberto and got in Silvestre but we have to be united and behind him.

    Give Cesc your support and he will bring us what we need.

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  • 44. At 5:20pm on 24 Nov 2008, HighburyHead wrote:

    Toasted Heretic which player are saying Cesc doesn't get on with?!

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  • 45. At 5:25pm on 24 Nov 2008, bobbieflowers wrote:

    I feel a bit sorry for arsene wenger at the moment. He is a great manager and i personally am grateful to him for some of the entertainment his arsenal teams have provide in the decade or so he been at the helm. It seems a shame to see arsenal bickering like this because it hasn't been a feature of his tenure until now.

    i can understand though the frustrations of arsenal fans. It must be frustrating to be a top four club but spending money like your from the bottom half. Furthermore the board members who declared in the press that arsene had money to spend and chose not to have done him no favours now as it appears from an outsider looking in that he has stubbornly refused to soften his stance on only recruiting young prospects.

    I think until the start of this season it was hard to argue against wengers idealogy but the results this year have highlighted the fact that you can't just rely on youth players if you want to be successful. I also think some of the personalities at arsenal are not of the calibre that wenger has been use to coaching previously. people like adebayor and van persie are talented but maybe gallas (despite his stupid and thoughless timing) is right in saying they lack the character to be winners - he can probably put himself in that catergory too though!

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  • 46. At 5:26pm on 24 Nov 2008, redandblackT-Save 606 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 47. At 5:27pm on 24 Nov 2008, DC wrote:

    Have to disagree with some of your statements, Phil.

    By selecting Cesc as captain he hasn't suggested that he has changed his mind.

    What he DOES have to do, is select someone to shake hands with the ref, ball boys, assistants etc at the beginning of the game. I will accept that he then becomes the face of the club and as such is the obvious choice.

    His selection of Fabregas obviously backs up his idea of having many captains on the field - Cesc is 21 and although 5 years down the line from making his first team debut, is hardly what you would class as experienced. He's slight, quiet, thoughtful - all things that Alan Hansen probably wouldnt look for in a captain. But face of the club? Undoubtedly.

    Some other points to raise.

    Arsenal haven't played well for a while - if Fenerbace and Man utd had taken their chances, we would have been buried comfortably. We certainly caught United on a VERY bad day. Indeed, there were performances of note from Denilson and the much beleagured Gallas. but did anyone REALLY think that it was a turning point or that the players had upped their performance for the big match. Gallas was right with what he said - we lack the fighting spirit for the away day at City or more worryingly home games against Hull, with respect to Hull and their Manager who've done an excellent job this season. We don't lack the fighting spirit in the traditional Alan Hansen / Mark Lawrenson "get stuck in" manner (see the United performance), but the fight for the low key occasion. this has been a BIG problem for many a year. A fabulous evening in the Bernabeau not too long ago, was ruined by a trip up to the North West a few days later.

    How can it be turned around? And we all believe it can be, surely. The captaincy issue is much of nothing, really. We've had the luck going our way recently, barring the Spurs game which was just horrible. We need a dominant central midfielder to partner Cesc AND more importnatly, protect the back four a bit. Plus more goals form midfield - gone are the days of 20 from Pires or Ljungberg.

    Up the Arsenal - lets get 4th place and hope we dont get any English teams in the Champions league, because we really can do well in that.

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  • 48. At 5:28pm on 24 Nov 2008, Bye Bye Badman wrote:

    As much as I rate Fabregas as a player and potential captain in the future, he should not be given the arm band at the moment.

    When Torres came to Liverpool, he commented about how he was too young and inexperienced to be made captain of Athletico Madrid. How could he as a teenager organise teammates with over 10 years professional experience and tell them what to do?

    The captain is the man that is responsible for organising players, providing support and sorting out bad/poor behaviour. How can Fabregas have a go at someone like Adebayour?

    Too young, too inexperienced and definitely not the answer to Arsenals problems.

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  • 49. At 5:30pm on 24 Nov 2008, captainferrari wrote:

    Gallas needed to be stripped of the captaincy as he commited the worse sin of a professional footballer by saying what happens in the dressing room.Fact.

    Gallas had an amazing game against Utd and is one arguably one of the best defenders in the country. Fact.

    However, the club knows they need a positive leader. There are only 2 names that are ever mentioned and these are Cesc and Kolo.Fact.

    Here lies the problem. Toure is seen as a quiet guy, whereas Fabregas is seen as Mr Arsenal. Fact.

    If (A BIG IF) Fabregas has as much influence as Mr Gerrard at Liverpool, Arsenal will once again be dominating on all counts.Fact.

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  • 50. At 5:31pm on 24 Nov 2008, HighburyHead wrote:

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  • 51. At 5:44pm on 24 Nov 2008, arsinine wrote:

    Fabregas is a great choice for captain but Wenger is just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. He has said himself that the captaincy is not important. Meanwhile he has done nothing to address the glaring problems in Arsenal's defense - problems that have been obvious and worsening since early 2008. I can only conclude that Wenger simply doesn't think defence is important. He has spent no money on new defenders and while the "young guns" are extremely impressive going forward none of them stand out as defenders. Conclusion: nothing much has changed. The best Arsenal can hope for in 2008 is a top 4 finish. It really didn't have to be this way and it is Wenger who is responsible for the current state of affairs.

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  • 52. At 5:45pm on 24 Nov 2008, DC wrote:

    captainferrari - i like your facts, though they're your opinions, not facts. Some good ones though :0)

    Gallas didnt 'commit the worst sin' - see joey Barton incidents for better examples, or possibly Kieron Dyer / Lee Bowyer or even Adebayor and Bendtner.

    Captains dont have to organise teams anymore - it's not the way they play. Perhaps in the lower levels of football yes, but at this level? I don't think so. They do need to pull out big perfromances, and drag teams to victory when falling into defeat. i think Cesc CAN do that job.. in my opinon, yes. Fact.

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  • 53. At 5:50pm on 24 Nov 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 54. At 5:56pm on 24 Nov 2008, jonesstrikesback wrote:

    Theres a number on here who say Wenger has built arsenal... No he didn't. GG did that with no nonsense football. AW then used the defence to his advantage up until early 2000... All I am trying to say here is if Wenger does leave, someone else will come in and do extremely well with what is there. I hope he doesn't leave though for the sake of football in the UK.

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  • 55. At 6:07pm on 24 Nov 2008, bradys_bunch wrote:

    I just want to say to all you Arsenal Fans who are slagging off Wenger you are a real disgrace to this Club!!!!!

    1) Wenger is the most sucessfull Manager we have ever had! Why change him?

    2) You glory hunters want to jump on the band wagon and stir things up so he leaves!
    Thinking we might get someone better! No one better not even SAF as he has lots of money to spend and we don't so proves he is the best manger with what he has!

    3) Fact - Wenger has a Vision and only loyal supporters who really care about Arsenal's future can see what he is trying to do!

    4) No-one can blame wenger with what happened with Gallas! Unless he follows him where ever he goes then how can Wenger control him! As for what happened at birmingham Arsene did not want to destroy him by taking away the captaincy!
    he did the right thing any decent human being would do!

    5) Some fans today are too routhless with comments and expect instant sucess even in a recession!

    6) Maybe that is why wenger cannot buy top players as there might be no money but again some fans seem to think we have lots of it! It's all invested in the Emirates! REMEMBER!!!!!

    7) Finally i believe in 1 or 2 years we will be great again! IN ARSENE I TRUST! DO YOU??

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  • 56. At 6:14pm on 24 Nov 2008, Arsenalpassion wrote:

    On the five ocassions that Arsenal was beaten this season, they were generally out-muscled. It is down to the fact that the youngstars are yet to see the other side of football - tough, gruelling, physical and gutsy.
    we definitely need more men in the team. There is a point that skill and youthful passion can take a team. When these fail, guts and hard fighting take over. The boys lack these and this is why Wenger should jettison his current recruitment policy. Otherwise, it will be another season of "we are a youthful team that is maturing." That way, we will never mature.

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  • 57. At 6:16pm on 24 Nov 2008, david_delarge wrote:

    Why was Toure passed over for the captaincy yet again? He's our longest serving player, one of the best defenders in the premier league, and is more of a natural leader and more experienced than Fabregas. Not that it should make too much difference, the role of captain isn't as important as the press like to make out, and Arsenal's problems go deeper than who the captain is.

    Also Phil, did you not see Arsene's press conference? He's still going on about shared leadership as before. Obviously he has to select an individual captain though, even if they are nothing more that a figurehead.

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  • 58. At 6:23pm on 24 Nov 2008, rav_man wrote:

    rubbish decision, Fabregas is too week to be captain

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  • 59. At 6:24pm on 24 Nov 2008, DC wrote:

    oh for goodness sake, come on. GG did not build Arsenal.

    Ah, is this a troll some people speak of?

    Lets roll it back - Bertie Mee? nope.

    The guy that revalutionised football and 'The Arsenal' was Herbert Chapman. Our values stem from that man, originally. And i dont think anyone at the club would disagree.

    However, it's 2008 and we're talking about a team that on their day can play as beautifully as any other in England.

    The point is really about Cesc on this thread though - and captaincy in general.

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  • 60. At 6:30pm on 24 Nov 2008, Teiam - problem solved wrote:

    I'm sorry, Gallas is a great passionate captain, ofcourse he has his flaws but everyone does, the problems he speaks of doesn't seem to be new, there's been signs of unrest amongst the players but it seems Gallas gets the blame, Wenger can leave and sure there'll be a place for him at a different club but so there would for Gallas, he's a fantastic defender. Wenger, I believe deserves loyalty from the club but I can understand why fans would want him to leave, he's had 4 years with no trophies and empty promises, he's pushing it a bit here.

    Gallas should remain captain too, his comments wern't too bad and certainly not as bad as Roy Keanes, he's a true sportsman too and the only Arsenal player to shake hands after the Spurs match unlike the rest of the spoilt brats out there, Fabregas won't be staying at Arsenal either, making him captain is the same as making Ronaldo captain at United, both players are wanting to play in Spain and if the opportunity comes they'll jump ship.

    Anyway, that's my opinion on the matter.

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  • 61. At 6:40pm on 24 Nov 2008, sweetsmellofsuccess wrote:

    Fabregas is a poor choice for captain. He's a terrific player, and the only Arsenal player I'd like in my (ManU) team, but he's not a natural leader. Being the best player is not the same as being the best leader. He's as likely to struggle with his own form as thrive, and Arsenal can ill-afford that.

    Wenger has had a long-term problem imposing cohesion and team discipline on his squad. This goes back to Vieira and his spitting, Bergkamp disappearing for games on end, Overmars' sulks, Lehman's tantrums, and so on. He shows no sign of overcoming that.

    Arsenal are a lovely team to watch in full flow, and hit full flow when teams give them time and space. When things get tougher, they lack that extra dimension, and have lacked it for a while. One trophy in five years? For a team with one of the ten biggest turnovers in the world? The likes of Bendtner wouldn't get in the reserves in Chelski and ManU.

    A season struggling to keep Villa at bay. And that's it. Don't blame the board. Look at your manager and his blind spots.

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  • 62. At 6:46pm on 24 Nov 2008, gringo Loco wrote:

    Wenger has built a superb team, that just needs a couple of years, then watch out the rest.

    As far as Ferguson goes, with the obscene amounts of money at his disposal he should have won even more. Yes I know he's won doubles and trebles, but he should have won EVERYTHING.

    When you are good enough you are old enough.

    Cesc has the best eye for the last pass than anyone I've seen for a long long time. Why he doesn't start for spain, i'll never know.

    Arsenal have had their experienced players who every year were after a move and finally got it, to oblivion. cf Vieira, Henri.

    A good defencive midfielder and a striker will solve their short term problems, but they've had serious injuries.

    I saw an interview with Cesc and they asked him "If you could sign anyone in the world who would it be?" answer Samuel Eto. Wenger, go get him.

    Wenger should be manager for life!!!

    I'm a neutral, an unfortunate expatriot Baggies fan. I support all 4 teams in the CL plus Celtic. If their are 2 games on at the same time, I would always watch the Arsenal game. They play the game how it was meant to be played. No clogging. Maybe they need a Keane type or a Nobby Stiles. I like Mascherano, but he's not available. What about the psycho Barton! He certainly has fight.

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  • 63. At 6:57pm on 24 Nov 2008, laskeyst wrote:

    There can no longer be any doubt that Arsenal have taken a step backwards this season. Last year's progress suddenly looks fragile and perhaps unsustainable without fresh injections of steel and talent. However, Fabregas has been the natural leader of Arsenal since the beginning of last season. His several goals at the beginning of 2007/2008 were just the answer the club needed to the criticism we were getting too few from midfield. Similarly, although looking a touch below his best this year, he has never hidden. Even after 1 or 2 risky passes have gone astray, he makes himself available as ever. It looks more and more like Wenger underestimated Hleb and Flamini's contribution to last year's progress, but the appointment of Fabregas seems to me a step towards him finally recognising that. Perhaps this is the true beginning of the season for Arsenal.

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  • 64. At 6:57pm on 24 Nov 2008, phil wrote:

    As a Man U fan I FAN i AM

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  • 65. At 6:57pm on 24 Nov 2008, gc wrote:

    Reminds me of when Houllier stripped Hypia to give the captaincy to Gerrard, and a similar thing with Terry at Chelsea. The rest of all know that Fabregas already was the de facto captain at Arsenal. He is Arsenal. He embodies the whole team.
    And Wenger leaving? Nothing could hasten the departure of Fabregas more. They need to sign some older midfield steel. Or perhaps they shouldn't have let that fella leave for Portsmouth.

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  • 66. At 7:07pm on 24 Nov 2008, phil wrote:

    As a Man U fan I am amazed to even hear Arsenal fans questioning Arsene Wengers future as your manager! Given the constraints you have placed upon him he has and does achieve miracles. He's the only PL manager that gets anywhere close to SAF as an achiever and with a fraction of his resources. To me your problems began when you moved to the Emirates, it was supposed to generate revenue to allow you to compete with Chelsea and United but you appear to have been cash strapped ever since! Wenger created a double winning squad, you have beat us this season and have a fast developing young squad that will challenge for honours or net you millions in due course in transfers, All you need in the transfer window is a couple of home grown scrappers to put some backbone in your team - Upson back and Scott Parker from hard-up West Ham ? What's the matter with you people???

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  • 67. At 7:27pm on 24 Nov 2008, EspanasNo1 wrote:

    Perhaps this has already been posted but I can't help but look at what happened to Thierry Henry, Arsenal's previously most pivotal player, when Wenger made him captain, the responsibility sat very heavily on him and it didn't seemed to weigh his performances down.

    Might have been an interesting experiment if Wenger had decided not to appoint a captain and told the players that each of them had to take up the extra responsibility.

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  • 68. At 7:38pm on 24 Nov 2008, Edu Gomez wrote:

    It always seemed to me, rather than buying the best players, Wenger has the ability to transform average players into the best.

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  • 69. At 7:40pm on 24 Nov 2008, sailoveshanna wrote:

    I have a question. What does it mean to be a football captain? What are the roles of captaincy? Do you get paid more if you are given captaincy? Why would Gallas care if he is no longer the captain? Less stress for him right? I don't understand what the big fuss is... can someone please explain

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  • 70. At 7:50pm on 24 Nov 2008, Haruki wrote:

    I like the choice of Fabregas as many people have said, he is the face of Arsenal, and it shouldn't really matter who the captain is anyway. As for the manager, I think it actually could be time for a change, as strange as that is. Clubs, and their fans, generally take on the personna of their manager. Chelsea exude confidence and play with a kind of unrelentingness(?), United are the same, as both have had world class management who exude confidence all the time. Arsenal, however, look flimsy, and are much too quick to look for excuses. Wenger has been a good manager, but lately he just looks fragile and is always blaming someone else for a bad performance. After Tottenham, Hull, and Stoke, he should have blasted his players..instead its the refs fault, or the other team is too physical. He needs to accept responsibility get on with it and maybe his team will do the same

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  • 71. At 7:53pm on 24 Nov 2008, Jamesthecelt wrote:

    behaviour that appalled BBC Sport football expert Alan Hansen -


    You journalist should have a second career on stage.

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  • 72. At 8:12pm on 24 Nov 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Interesting to hear some say Sir Alex Ferguson could turn up at Arsenal now and be more successful than Wenger.

    Sorry, don't buy that - and that is no criticism of one of the all-time great managers.

    Wenger's philosophy runs right through Arsenal and he can get the best out of those players.

    I stick by what I said - I do not believe anyone could do any better.

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  • 73. At 8:16pm on 24 Nov 2008, Haruki wrote:

    Ferguson is not "one of the all-time great manager" he is IS the greatest manager of all time because he has achieved the most in the modern era, which will always be more competetive than the past

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  • 74. At 8:24pm on 24 Nov 2008, Haruki wrote:

    and theres more! SAF has shown he can do it all: he can bring up youngsters from the academy and make them premiership stars (becks, scholes, etc.), he can take youngsters from other clubs and get them to their full potential (ronaldo), he makes astute small money buys (soljskaer, evra, vidic, schmeichel), he makes astute big money buys (rooney, ronaldo, nani, anderson, berbatov), he commands everyones respect, he plays the media like a fiddle, his tactics and substitutions are usually spot on (remember his complete mastery of Barca away last year), he bloods youngsters, he handles veterans, he is the complete manager. and when he does make a mistake in the transfer market, or someone isnt performing, or they shoot their mouth off, they're gone, no matter who they are or think they are (keane, forlan, kleberson, becks, veron: all sold quickly after it became clear it wasnt gonna work out)
    when SAF retires, it will be the single most important moment in united's history up to now

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  • 75. At 8:29pm on 24 Nov 2008, dhimmi wrote:

    You made a mistake

    You put "wise choice" when you meant "only choice"

    Stop being 100% pro Wenger. The man is not perfect.

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  • 76. At 8:33pm on 24 Nov 2008, LondonsFinestClub wrote:

    Fabregas is the most talented player at Arsenal and one of the best in Europe. This is a last gasp effort by the goons to hold him from returning to Spain, Real Madrid covet him and most teams would pay dearly for him. However, Arsenal don't have a defence to back up his creative skills and I wonder how long his leadership honeymoon will last, personally I hope Chelsea kill it at birth!

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  • 77. At 8:34pm on 24 Nov 2008, welltaken wrote:

    Let us clear something up.

    Ferguson and Wenger are both great managers, but Wenger could not manage Man Utd and Ferguson could not run Arsenal. Sorry but that is that. Different philosophies, different styles and they both live and breath the club they manage. It is ridiculous, daft and delusional to think otherwise.

    My second point -

    I am an Arsenal fan, and regardless of this 'dip in form' I would not want anybody other than Arsene Wenger to manage our beloved club.
    I don't care if we do not win the premiership for the next five years- I love the way we play (recent couple of matches aside) - the style, panache, attacking intent..just the sheer poetry of the football they produce.
    I enjoy watching them - it is a thrill and it is different to what I see in other sides.
    Why is it so important to 'win' the title? Ask yourself ,and answer with a philosophical and rational answer please! Look at it subjectively - does the 'best' team always win the title....? Think about it.....

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  • 78. At 8:38pm on 24 Nov 2008, WoolwichMo wrote:

    I agree with Phil's last comment, if we are talking about Arsenal specifically then no Sir Alex Ferguson could not do any better. He is a great Manager of Man U. However hear me out the same goes in reverse I don't think if Wenger went to Man U he'd do any better than Fergie!

    I am a lifelong gooner. Not a fairweathered fan either. If Wenger left tomorrow that I would consider a crisis! I couldn't think of a man who could replace him mainly because I don't wish to! When Man U fans are disgusted by the treatment of our Manager something is wrong! I want to win trophies yes but I want Arsenal to keep it's integrity and it's soul with it. One of the most respected and well run clubs in the world is being overshadowed by the words of one man and a strange one at that! If Wengers biggest mistake in 12 years is making Gallas captain I'll take it. He has rectified it now albeit a little too late! Let's give Cesc a chance I personally think it will be the making of him. You'll see when he lifts the Champions League trophy next year! For all of you morons who are going to tell me I'm wrong and why such and such a team is better then don't waste your time. I'm a true fan, I have faith sometimes blind and sometimes justified. But I will never stop believing!

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  • 79. At 8:47pm on 24 Nov 2008, MightyMagyars wrote:

    Wenger is fallible, granted, but let's trust in him. I think this league season is over, but I still believe in some cup success.
    Benitez has given up on rotation, which was his trademark, and it seems to work.
    Wenger can bring in some more experienced players, and don't forget that we also have a good set of players sidelined by injuries.

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  • 80. At 8:50pm on 24 Nov 2008, DC wrote:

    Phil - you're absolutely right. Right now, at Arsenal, no-one could do better.

    There are some interesting points made above and he does get the best from players. HOWEVER (empahasis added), i think he's got the best out of certain players and those players are not good enough.

    Within the team, there are a few who would go to the other top 3 sides.

    Sagna, Clichy, Gallas (i still believe he can play at this level), Fabregas, Van Persie, Adebayor, Walcott. That's the basis of a good side - we lost two more in Flamini (last years player of the year) and Hleb who was technically as good, or not far off, DB10. The problem is that we just dont have the depth. Chelsea don't always seem to play Essien, who's a phenomenally gifted player who could play for any other side in the world, no question.

    I dont think anyone who's read what the board are saying would balme them for not investing further. We've a lot of money tied up in property in a harsh financial climate. And although the board will say that Wenger has money to spend, it seems a fiar suggestion that until the unsold housing goes, the extra money that the new stadium has been bringing in (highest gate receipts in england) won't be released for new players. The older of the young players on loan tend to get sold - so expect Traore and Senderos to move on. (Not sure how Big Phil is doing at Milan, but i would think the italian game suits him and we might miss him in time. Traore is just unfortunate to be stuck behind Gael.) When they do, then we'll have some money to spend. I expect a loan signing with an eye to keeping him, possibly - a la Baptista.

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  • 81. At 8:50pm on 24 Nov 2008, bergkamp69 wrote:

    Really hope this goes well. With our style of attacking football it should bode well for us to have a midfield captain, a Gerrard type that can pump life into a team when they need it most, and score vital goals. Fabregas already showed this last season e.g. at Milan and Anfield, and his reactions show what it means to him when he gets these goals. It seems to give the rest of the team new-found energy, and, if he gets back to last years form, he should have no problem driving this team to get valuable results.

    Bring on Stamford Bridge!

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  • 82. At 8:56pm on 24 Nov 2008, DC wrote:

    WestCoastUtd - Granted, SAF is a great manager achieving great things, but Capello's achievements? He's won the double in two different countries and won the lot at Milan including going unbeaten in the league.

    SAF an Wenger are very different people at very different clubs.

    I dont know the facts on this, but weren't all those kids there when he arrived?

    Lastly, i think there's something else in Utd's history that will always be more important than someone retiring.

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  • 83. At 9:14pm on 24 Nov 2008, The Trawler wrote:

    my dead gran could've told you fabregas would be the new skipper

    another completely pointless blog fawning over Wenger

    change the record

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  • 84. At 9:19pm on 24 Nov 2008, laumarvinho wrote:

    I would like to think that abou diaby would be the ideal foil for cesc fabregas. He is very vieira-esque and has good long feet for retrieving unretrievable balls.

    Question marks about how much he gives the ball away but that he can learn and develop. I think Mr Arsene Wenger wanted more beef up top that's why he's being used as an attacking option, but he initially bought him in for something like £5m to replace Vieira long term and that option should now be explored, because denilson, alex song, ramsey, wilshere just aren't up for the job.

    Also desperately need Senderos back, I never really believed he was a bad player, only had problems against Drogba and also large slices of bad luck. Surely Senderos in no worse than any other of the poor performing centre backs that we have at the moment.

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  • 85. At 9:29pm on 24 Nov 2008, ChilesheofHArlow wrote:

    The only crime committed by Gallas was to hang bedroom linen in public for every Jim & Jack to comment on the obvious stains. For that it was made plain by the manager that he was not pleased. Granted, Gallas wasn't the best Arsenal could do. Now we move on, hoping the painful slaps at the hands of Hull, Stoke, Fulham, Aston Villa and Man. City will start feeling less painful. For an ardent Arsenal die hard the loss on Saturday was not hurtful or even unexpected. The recent performances pointed to nothing less. To be honest, I'd have been surprised had we won. That's something I wouldn't have thought of saying a year ago. I don't know whether the changing of the captaincy heralds anything to look forward to. Needless to say, it's still the same personnel on the pitch and an attack formation that includes, despite all our complaints and protestations, Bendtner!! Rocket science? Not a chance! The obvious is screaming at the Arsenal fan base. And all we do is hope.......

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  • 86. At 9:35pm on 24 Nov 2008, James wrote:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assumed Phil was talking about managers who would realistically replace Wenger. I think all the "Wenger out" talk is rot. What could be an idea though is for Wenger to perhaps bring Martin Keown for a week or so to inject some fighting spirit into the side.

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  • 87. At 9:44pm on 24 Nov 2008, nibs wrote:

    Yeah sure that's Arsenal's problem, who is captain and what comments they make, not that the players are cr@p.

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  • 88. At 10:05pm on 24 Nov 2008, gay fish wrote:

    Money available but not spending it. If David Moyes took over at Arsenal (after watching a dire Everton tonight) he would think all his christmases came early. Arsenal will not win the title this season as they have already lost too many games (look at all the past winners of the premiership and how many games they lost). If Real Madrid don't get Benitez they will definitely be after Wenger. Whether he knows how to utilise a budget is another matter. No point having money in the bank if you aren't winning anything or showing consistent enough form to win anything.

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  • 89. At 10:19pm on 24 Nov 2008, jpbutler23 wrote:

    But it's too early for him to be captain of a Premiership club like Arsenal. He is also a very quiet, relaxed and almost introverted person.


    He is a symbol of Arsenal though. We are different, and proud as far as I'm concerned, especially if we start winning.

    Adams was captain at 21. He's an Arsenal legend.

    Gerrard was Liverpool captain at 23. He's a Liverpool legend.

    I'm sure there are many more to add to that list, of course it doesn't mean he'll necessarily go the same way but he'll be a lot better than Gallas.

    Great news. :D

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  • 90. At 10:44pm on 24 Nov 2008, MOEMAX wrote:



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  • 91. At 10:49pm on 24 Nov 2008, David Pedro wrote:

    Fabregas is the wrong choice even though he is one of the most experienced arsenal players which is ridiculous at his age. they need a new centre midfielder to partner fabregas as denilson isnt good enough, they need two centre backs probably as gallas is an idiot and causes chaos at whatever club he goes to and silvestre is awful. im a chelsea fan and since gallas said he would never play for chelsea again and if he did he would score an own goal, i knew he was trouble and that arsenal were making a foolish decision in signing him. he is not a captain, toure should have been captain and toure should get it instead of fabregas as well as he is the only leader in my opinion at arsenal. they need some new faces in, they need to revamp themselves quickly.

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  • 92. At 11:07pm on 24 Nov 2008, JackMcMac wrote:

    What Arsenal have missed most the last couple of seasons is David Dein. Arsene needs someone he can fall back on, whom he trusts, who can sort out the finances and help with the big transfers. Wenger seems far too reserved in spending, so maybe he feels too responsible for the financial future of Arsenal. Then again, maybe he just lacks that one character in the boardroom who will back the justification for the occasional large transfer fee. With the obvious youthful talent Arsene has, maybe he can't convice the board he needs equally talented -yet older players for their sheer experience, which would appear to be a bad investment. He does seem to snap up any experience he can get on the cheap, like Sylvestre and Gallas. Perhaps Dein used to deliver the criticism no-one feels qualified to give to Wenger now, or maybe he was some source of advice or motivation to Arsene. Anyway, its all ifs and buts. No matter what, all issues aside, the buck always stops with the manager. Gallas a bad captain? It was Wenger that appointed him and stuck with him. Kids not working? Its Arsene's decision to go that direction. Unlike other clubs (Man U being the only exception to come to mind), Wenger has practically built everything around him at the club after being there for so long, and so you cannot blame anyone else for these results other than him. Sounds harsh, but if he wants the praise for getting it right he needs to take the stick for getting it wrong.

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  • 93. At 11:07pm on 24 Nov 2008, chalky23 wrote:

    Give Wenger till the end of the season. If Arsenal are not back to their best, then part ways. Theres no-one out there to replace him at the moment.

    As for the captaincy, Gallas should have lost it last season. And Fabregas is no captain. Arsenal don't actually have a player who could be a captain. Whereas the rest of the top 4 have plenty of candidates.

    Ultimately, I think the sole reason for Arsenal's poor form this season is that they did not replace Flamini. He was crucial for them, and quite frankly they need to spend whatever it took to get a top class signing to fill that holding role.

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  • 94. At 11:08pm on 24 Nov 2008, chalky23 wrote:

    Also, What can you expect from a team whos centrebacks are castoffs from other top 4 teams?

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  • 95. At 11:32pm on 24 Nov 2008, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    Fabregas seems the best choice right now.

    Phil I think your views on captaincy are relevant at a lower level of the game. On a Sunday morning perhaps. For shared leadership look at Man Utd. Who is the captain of Manchester United? Any one of 5 or more players; Neville, Ferdinand, Giggs, Scholes, Rooney have all worn the armband in the recent past. Do you blame a poor result on United changing captains during the game or between games? Non fist-pumping captains are not a recent development, Bobby Moore wasn’t particularly vocal. It’s often just a figurehead to shake hands at the start of a match as others have pointed out here (that's not Moore BTW).

    “But answer me this? Who is better placed or better qualified to handle these current struggles than Wenger? Name the manager who could succeed him and be more successful?”

    Vicente del Bosque?
    Alex Ferguson? He would probably win a trophy in less than 3½ years with the Arsenal team, better than Wenger’s last 3 1/2. So yes I think he could succeed him and be more successful. For you to say Ferguson could not win a trophy in the next 3½ years managing Arsenal is a big call.

    I find your question strange. If Arsenal thought like that in 1996 they would not have hired Wenger, they wouldn’t have been looking for him. He was doing an average job in Japan at the time, I watched Nagoya play under him. I have never met an Arsenal fan who knew of Wenger before he joined them. He was an amazing discovery by Arsenal. Why would a 40-something football manager go and ply their trade in a weak Asian league which had only been going for a couple for years? Probably for money and because he had no better options. But someone at Arsenal spotted his potential, he, or she, should be rewarded handsomely!

    As a Man Utd fan I would love Wenger to take over from Ferguson, he’s excellent.

    Why do you regularly refer to other journalists (Hansen) in your blogs? I read it for your view not theirs. I can read their articles and blogs to find that out. You make some interesting points, I hope to read some more.

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  • 96. At 00:20am on 25 Nov 2008, CarefreeCoors wrote:

    Surely it was blatantly obvious that Gallas was not the right man for the job by exiting Chelsea in the manner he did? Threatening to score own goals, does that sound like a leader or a role model to you?

    I admire Wenger but that was a rare slip up and a big one at that.

    He must have been drunk when he thought Almunia was his man. Result? Arsenal deservedly went down and how. Not saying it was entirely Manuel's fault.

    But it entirely wouldn't have helped! A far from convincing 'keeper wedged behind a leaky line of defence.

    Fabregas is right for now. His attitude alone makes him the correct candidate in the current crop.

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  • 97. At 00:56am on 25 Nov 2008, jovialnahtews wrote:

    There is no better manager to take over Wenger's role. There is understandably criticism levelled at him due to the lack of signings to cover the transfers this season, but surely this just proves that he is human?
    Alex Ferguson has done a great job at Man U, but he has had to spend millions to achieve his sucess. Could he have built Arsenal to the same stature as Wenger has done now? unlikely.. Arsenal needed a shrewd economical manager in the shape of Wenger and continues to need someone like him due to financial constraints the club continues to face due to the new stadium. In Wenger we trust!

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  • 98. At 01:21am on 25 Nov 2008, lboropsvl2 wrote:


    "Wenger shows no signs of never winning anything again with Arsenal"

    - 3 league championships
    - 3 times manager of the year
    - 4 FA cups
    - 1 unbeaten season

    ...if there is one man who can win trophies at Arsenal it is him. He is the best manager AFC have ever had.

    "because he refused to buy the best players and this blind method of management hasnt worked and wont"

    - When Wenger bought Henry from Juve, Fabregas from Barca, Eboue from Beveren, Toure, Viera, Walcott, were they amongst the best? No they weren't
    - Henry became arguably the best player in the world at his best, Fabregas is one of the best CM's. Not to mention Viera and the rest.
    - Give this team time to develop and they will win trophies.
    - Don't forget: this team has gone to a Champions League Final, Carling Cup Final, and some have won the League.

    "Arsenal have no captains in the team and an armband doesnt just make you one. They need experienced players and Wenger wont buy them, so Arsenal will never win anything until they get rid of Wenger or Wenger changes his views."

    - Gallas, Sylvestre, Toure, Eboue, Fabregas, Clichy

    How are these not experienced players?

    - Fabregas has won the Euro, Sylvestre the league and the Champions League, Gallas has won the Euro, World Cup and a final in the World Cup, Toure has won the League, 2 African Nations Cup Finals, 1 Champions League Final, same for Eboue...

    Get your facts right mate...

    Don't confuse age with experience!

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  • 99. At 01:26am on 25 Nov 2008, rndbit wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 100. At 02:22am on 25 Nov 2008, CarefreeCoors wrote:

    Re: lboropsvl2

    All well and good to list Arsenal's achievements under Wenger but I believe he was pointing out that The Gunners don't appear to be going anywhere fast, a statement I believe to be true.

    Realistically, with their stuttering form and pointless squabbles this season, what are they going to win? What about next season? Come to think of it, what has happened over the past few seasons?

    I'm not having a cheap dig at The Club but anyone can see that they have gone drastically downhill, or the other "big clubs" have improved & left them behind. The silverware has simply dried up.

    Wenger is a fantastic manager but I feel he may have taken Arsenal as far as he can take them.

    How much time to develop this young team is Wenger going to need? Or, more importantly, how much time will he be given?

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  • 101. At 03:14am on 25 Nov 2008, petergray2 wrote:

    Arsene Wenger has not been handling the team well since his father died. Gallas has received inadequate support from him recently and made an error in judgement in making his concerns for the team and club public. Wenger should apologise to Gallas for ignoring his concerns to the extent that he did. Gallas should apologise to everyone at the club for airing his concerns to a media which discernibly hates Arsenal.

    Gallas was and remains a great footballer and a great club player.

    Everyone who speaks from the heart deserves respect. Gallas shows heart where it counts - both on and off the pitch. Its time Arsene stood up for his men, and not just his boys, and admits his own glaring mistake to Gallas before its to late, or he will personally regret it later, and Arsenal will suffer.

    Gallas knew what would happen when he spoke out, and was prepared to lose the captaincy if it would focus the team. He fell on the sword for the club - Wenger now has to stand up and be counted as well and admit he was wrong in placing too much responsibility on Gallas's shoulders.

    Before anyone besides the Arsenal haters says another word on this answer me this - who else besides Eboue on the park for Arsenal shows Gallas's guts for a hard match. These new kids - including Fabregas - often play like fairies with boots on - respect the iron men Arsene - and remember that Patrick Vieira would have said this publicly weeks ago.

    Fabregas must now tell the dressing room that Gallas was right, and tell Wenger that if he does not support him when he becomes so concerned that he too will have the guts to focus his managers mind by also speaking out for the sake of both the team and the club.

    No more victims on the park, and no more excuses off it please Arsenal. A real team has strength of mind and body.

    Arsene - look in the mirror.

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  • 102. At 03:35am on 25 Nov 2008, Sevenseaman wrote:

    Fabregas'es promotion is apt, and it should not have taken rocket science for Wenger to arrive at this decision. May be Wenger's hope that he can still get something out of the disgruntled and deposed Gallas as a player is not misplaced either. It is important to pull Gallas out of the sulk of his life. He is too valuable a player to be consigned to the bench for good.
    But to hope the leadership change at Arsenal will work the alchemy is overly optimistic. Arsenal need a major surgery in team selection as well as an attitude makeover. That they do not fight hard enough on the field, was a very valid assertion from the ex captain. Performances in the games against Kiev and Chelsea will be markers. If Arsenal drop even one of them, they are going nowhere.

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  • 103. At 05:14am on 25 Nov 2008, Otiato wrote:

    Wenger is simply stubborn and enjoys the confidence of his employers, so no matter how much noise you guys make he will be there. He will be there until he either corrects his own mess or send the team to relegation in the name of building a team of the future. His remarks against Manchester, Chelsea and Liverpool about their spending pattern is unwarranted.
    He should change his tactics and stop picking on other teams. what is the point of being a stable financial position yet you are not winning any trophies. Does it mean that all that matters to Wenger is making huge returns by the end financial year?

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  • 104. At 05:23am on 25 Nov 2008, kris wrote:

    First of all i'm disgusted you even condoned Piers Morgan's article let alone describing it as making a 'fair point' especially given the pro-wenger conclusion you draw. All the same i'm glad you do at least draw a pro-wenger conclusion as though the man has infuriated me as well as every other arsenal fan this season with his conflicting comments, stubborness and at times what appears to be complete stupidity i still trust him. I would only begin to ask questions if he fails to strengthen the squad considerably in january. We clearly need new player(s) in both centre back and central midfield and almost certainly an adaptable winger as well. In fairness to Wenger he took a gamble with his current squad, it failed, but then this squad wasn't entirely different to last year (with the obvious exception of central midfield) and Wenger has great belief in Diaby so i can understand his gamble. In addition i still believe he thought that rosisky would return - which would have solved a lot of problems given that his natural position (as some arsenal fans would do well to remember) is central midfield. Wenger only becomes a failing manager, in my eyes, if he still cannot admit the problems in the transfer market come january.

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  • 105. At 06:03am on 25 Nov 2008, IAM-always-ARSENAL wrote:

    nice article.

    I was one of the arsenal fan questioning the qulality of leadership by Gallas but now I am very happy the armband given to Fabregaz.

    In the mean time we want to see him change the club into success and bring back to the race of the top 4. All these things seem to be difficult but I think Febregaz will do it. Let's hope so.

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  • 106. At 06:28am on 25 Nov 2008, Cameron wrote:

    I agree with you on all fronts Phil.
    Arsene Wenger really only had one option for a new captain an that was Cesc Fabregas.

    Gallas was an accident waiting to happen although I can understand his frustrations, I cannot excuse his way of handling the problems.

    His statement that he has no friends at Arsenal were quite damaging I believe and his petulant sit in at Birmingham last year will certainly not be a high point in his career nor a high point in Arsenal history.

    I believe that a lot of Gunners fans were miffed by Wenger going for Gallas as captain over the much loved Gilberto Silva.
    Although the emergence of Flamini kinda explained that away. So we gave Arsene the benefit of the doubt on that one.

    But after coming out with his latest outburst, William Gallas has maybe given Arsenal an unintended chance at the title.

    By unintended I mean that Gallas certainly wants to win but by now making Cesc captain and relieving Gallas of that duty, Arsenal may now look to Cesc in the same way that Liverpool look to Steven Gerrard.

    And this may prove to be the thing that gives Arsenal some fight and resolve and just maybe a shot at the title.

    Anyone who says Wenger has to go, really has their head in the clouds because as Phil says, name the manager who could/would come in and do a better job.

    I am as frustrated as the next Gooner but I understand that there have been mistakes made by Wenger, and there will be more, but I believe he will deliver more silverware sometime soon.

    Come on the Gunners, do us proud.

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  • 107. At 06:43am on 25 Nov 2008, cleolyne wrote:

    As a regular contibutor on BBC Radio 5 live World Football Phone in Dotun Adebayor asked my opinion of off pitch problems at Emirates .I told him Gallas should have stripped of captaincy back in February when our title hopes collapsed.Eduardo had a horrific break and team was in shock.Where was Captain Gallas kicking the hell out of an advertizing hoarding so much for keeping team morale up,Respect ia earned not gained ,smoking in public and bad mouthing team mates is not the right way of earning respect. Listen to podcast I said give it to Cesc Fabregas. Gallas could well have his own agenda a loan move/transfer to PSG.Who had a shock win over Lyon at the weekend who just happen to have his best friend there!! Adams was only 21 when GG gave him captain's armband come on ARSENAL Dynamo Kiev and Battle of Stamford Bridge on Sunday we always raise our games against top 3.

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  • 108. At 07:21am on 25 Nov 2008, alpeshcgujjar wrote: the players care who their Captain is.
    Players at the end of the day are humans just like us,they get jealous just like us,but people sometimes forget and think that the player a aliens and they dont feel what we feel.
    There could be someone else in Arsenals team who wished to be the Cap,seeing Fab as the choosen one there could be players around him who could get jealous,this can make those players not listening to the Captain resulting them to underperform.
    We make choosing the right man for the Captains post a very big issue but i dont think the players care who their captain is,they can pretend to care infront of media but in reality they dont care.
    But i do believe it helps when you choose the right man.
    It can couse trouble as well,because Gallas can still create bad atmosphere in the dressing room and on the field and Fab can do nothing about it..
    But the good think is Fab has been at Arsenal for a very long time now,and many players around him are new so they wont really mind if he is the choosen one,they will support him.
    Ade might feel something but he will be okey.
    Arsenal needs to find Gallas replacement.
    And one more thing,we dont really know what is going on at Arsenal,blaming Wenger for not buying players is not right,we only know how to talk but Wenger knows what is available for him,the Chairman can come out and say Wenger has the money to spend but no one knows the reality.
    There are fact happening inside Arsenal football club and the Manager knows it better,When Wenger does not buy a player there should be a reason behind that,this is the man who made Arsenal one of the biggest around the world,he deserve some respect from the clubs own fans at least
    When Wengers leaves Arsenal will suffer,a Manager like him is hard to find.

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  • 109. At 07:32am on 25 Nov 2008, back_to_oblivion wrote:

    Gallas is not good as he think about himself, he is an average defender if i try to be polite and kind towards him!! he's been outpaced by younger players in soooo many occasion and he's been cought out of position in many games and its a clear facts about him , but i do admit that he comes out with some good perfomance once in a while but that does not makes him good, every player will have a good day in pitch.. even titus bramble gives outstanding perfomance once in a while !!! he could not find a starting place as central defender at chelsea and he played most of his career as right/left back at chelsea and that gives the correct picture about his qualityas a central defender he is truly versatile average defender but not a match winner !! his points may be valid and it should be corrected sooner then later but that does not justify his actions which clearly proves that he does not have the ability to solve it in the dressing room by himself and he choose to make it public and slag his team mates to save himself from the criticism

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  • 110. At 10:17am on 25 Nov 2008, antiblazer wrote:

    It would seem that much of the controversy around Mr Wenger stems from that Simon Cowell Wannabee Piers Morgan, a man who has built a career by deliberately going out of his way to hurt and upset folks. The man who failed to hold down the job of editing cheap journalism in a cheap red top. The man who is an expert on everything but knows nothing.

    Sadly he has an audience, sheep like individuals who actually believe he knows what he's talking and writing about. Thankfully, those who believe him are in the minority, they are those unable to understand that in vilifying a good man and gleefully creating controversy he gets to stay in the public domain for yet another pay day.

    Mr Wenger is without a shadow of doubt one of ours games great managers and can sit comfortably alongside Sir Alex, Billy Nick, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough, Stan Cullis and Alf Ramsey not forgetting Bobby Robson and Jock Stein

    Long may he remain at Arsenal, he is a breath of fresh air, good for our game and if he decides the tea lady should be captain he will still have more idea than Mr Morgan.

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  • 111. At 10:27am on 25 Nov 2008, SportsSportsSportsBS wrote:

    Arsene Wenger is a fantastic manager, one of the best in the world today. In terms of player development I can't recall anyone better. While there have been exceptions, the development of players like Henry, Pires, Fabregas, Vieria, Hleb, Ljungberg, Clichy and the current Carling Cup team under Wenger's tutelage has been outstanding.

    Furthermore, the brand of football Wenger plays is probably second to none in terms of entertainment when Arsenal are on-song, although Barcelona and Manchester United run them close.

    However, Wenger's passing philosophy is not balanced with physicality in this current team. The lack of a strong holding midfielder whose primary purpose is to disrupt the opposition and allow other more creative midfielders to flourish by providing assurance that the back four are protected regardless is out of tune with modern football.

    Wenger advocated this himself when he had the combination of Vieria and Petit, then Vieria and Gilberto, and Gilberto and Fabregas. Real Madrid and then Chelsea's use of Makelele in this role was hugely successful, Liverpool have Mascherano, when fit Man Utd have Hargreaves, Barcelona have Yaya Toure/ Marquez, the examples are endless.

    Arsenal need a player with a bit of experience to play 15 yards behind Fabregas so he can flourish, Denilson is more of a passer, too similar to Fabregas and at this stage of his career too lightweight and inexperienced.

    Apparently Wenger has the money, so why he won't use it on a player or two to compliment has lavishly gifted and young squad is beyond me, but it is costing Arsenal at the moment.

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  • 112. At 11:33am on 25 Nov 2008, 27 wrote:

    Firstly, I’m a life long United fan, but this is my two cents worth on Arsene.

    Arsene Wenger has done an extraordinary job at Arsenal, and he won impressive championships back in 98 and 2002 and in 04. His recent travails from my point of view are because the high echelon of Premier League football has moved on so much in the last 4 years or so that his template for success - clever insightful buys of cheap players or obscure raw young talent - no longer appears to work. Back in 98, players didn’t cost so much to buy, so gate receipt money at Highbury wasn’t as critical as it is now at the much larger Emirates.

    Wenger also only had one serious rival back then and that was Ferguson’s United; who weren’t spending vast amounts on players because of the home grown players that were in their prime back then. This, incidentally allowed the money in the club to be spent on ground enlargement. By the time big fees became necessary, United had already paid for their stadium and were drawing on the benefits without the loans required by Arsenal to build the Emirates.

    Wenger is using the same plans he did 10 years ago. Unfortunately for him, its no longer just United he has to fight, there are 2 other serious rivals in the mix now. And due to Abramovich and others that followed him transfer fees are astronomical. Wenger seems to have difficulty in spending the required amount, even though his team are clearly short in some areas. This current side are good but for 3 years now we’ve all accepted the team in transition line that has been pedalled. But really, how long does a team stay in that transition for? Fergie has built side upon side, with the longest period without league success being 3 seasons since the EPL started. Money is an issue now, and United do spend it but it wasn’t as crucial back when the two clubs were slugging it out season after season in the late 90’s.

    It’ll be our league’s loss if Wenger is pushed out, but he has to look to himself, recognise the game has moved on and get to grips with the new reality, even if he doesn’t agree with it. Otherwise its difficult to see him winning the premiership again.

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  • 113. At 11:53am on 25 Nov 2008, asnlmadrid wrote:

    Good blog. Wenger cannot be replaced, but needs to start spending decent amounts of money on players like he did with Nasri. Most arsenal fans would agree that Miguel Veloso would be a perfect replacement for Flamini, and with his physical power it would provide beneficial for the defence aswell.

    Wenger making Fabregas captain was a good move, and Fabregas could only be challenged for it by Toure and Almunia. This would hopefully give Fabregas that more responability that is already heaped on his shoulders and make him a better player. it should also prove to him that he is definately wanted here and he should'nt move on.

    And like you said Phil.... "the appoitment of Fabregas as captain is a step in the right direction".

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  • 114. At 12:45pm on 25 Nov 2008, boomshakalak wrote:

    Wenger is class.... i don't know whether he is one of the best 5 managers in the world or top 10 or 20 or whatever.. but the guy is awesome and has done an amazing job at Arsenal - you don't get to a Champions League final, win Premier League titles and FA cups if you are rubbish!... I think it is laughable that some people would even want to suggest that he should be replaced... the guy has done wonders for Arsenal since taking over from Bruce Rioch...

    However, my post at #2 was simply in response to the fact that I believe that SAF is a better manager - it is bordering on irrelevant to argue if he would do a better job at Arsenal as he wouldn't take the job and Arsenal wouldn't sack Wenger anyway... but whilst Wenger has done great he has never been able to really pull off big signings - whether this is out of choice (although he has tried to get high profile players like Robinho when he went to Real) or out of lack of resources... but he has no history in doing this - and this is what Arsenal are arguably missing... a couple of top drawer established players to complement the young team he is building... linked to this SAF is the absolute master of having a group of players that keep in check... Wenger has had problems with a few of his players showing their frustration... if anyone questions SAF - then they are off... Wenger however seems more willing to try and pacify players and then lose them anyway (Viera and Henry spring to mind)... even when Ronaldo was supposedly unsettled in the summer - there was loads of media speculation adn pursuit but nothing damning coming from Ronaldo... why??? ... because Ferguson trains them well... even Beckham (whom the media kept telling us was at war with SAF towards the end of his time at MU has never spoken negatively about SAF or Man U in public... so all in all Wenger is great... but everything he does well, Ferguson does as well and everything he does not so well Ferguson does well.... and that is why Fergie has won more!

    But don't go on about sacking Wenger just because Gallas is an idiot!

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  • 115. At 12:58pm on 25 Nov 2008, rndbit wrote:

    For some reason it would seem that my comment written about the lack of research that goes into an article has effectively been banned from being displayed - comment number 99. I am unsure why? But I look forward to the BBC offering me the information I have requested (via email) as to why so in future I can structure my comments in a way which informs people of a lack of research in an article, but does not cross their rules for comments.

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  • 116. At 12:59pm on 25 Nov 2008, boomshakalak wrote:

    and i think Fabregas is the most suitable choice for Captain by a long way... not just because of the fact there is no-one better at Arsenal - but because i think he has been a captain in waiting for some time and will probably go on and captain spain as well as he always comes across as such a positive person and a great, motivational, leader as a player.... so i think Wenger has got this decision right!

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  • 117. At 1:03pm on 25 Nov 2008, gunpaul wrote:

    any arsenal fan who says that wenger should go is not really a fan..or they certainly have not been a fan long enough to remember the pre-wenger years of dull 0-0 draws or 1-0 wins..wenger has transformed the club. just look at the stadium, the training ground and our youth set up..when he finally does leave he will leave a legacy..i have 100% faith that he will get it right and win trophies..i kind of agree that we need maybe one or 2 more players, but dont forget our extensive injury list at the moment. no club could cope with having so many key players we should also be extremely proud that wenger has achieved this without financially crippling the club or relying on a rich benefactor..will be interesting to see how these clubs deal with the financial climate over the next few years

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  • 118. At 1:25pm on 25 Nov 2008, coolguymanutd wrote:

    To be candid, AW is the best thing that has happened to Arsenal. His main problem being his stubbornness in refusing to change with change preferring to use children where men is clearly required.

    Funny enough, this method has paid him in the past-Cese taking up the mantle when Vera,He almost won the CL, left unfortunately that have not being the case this season.

    I understand the plight of the fans but they should know that AW is still an excellent coach all the board needs to do is to force him to buy big players.

    You needs these kind of players to win the CL. As for his choice of captaincy, Fabregas is the best choice if they are looking for a long-team successor but, this will still not deter other bigger clubs from luring him unless they start winning trophies that's what is going to keep him.

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  • 119. At 1:26pm on 25 Nov 2008, deleosinubi wrote:

    Agreed that Arsenal is not doing well at the moment, but that does not Wenger did not buy good players, but an experienced and dedicated players who could match or surpass the outgoing ones.

    Cesc Fabregas chosen as Arsenal captain is in good direction. He has shown most times he can lift the team spirit and age has nothing to do with being a captain of the team. He meritted the captaincy and i believe he would perform.

    As for Wenger, He has to learn from his past mistakes and he should be wise enough about selecting some players in the first eleven. The likes of Bendtner and Eboue does not merit 1st team shirt, while he should look for more experience, young, dedicated and determined players in the midfield, attack and the defense.

    For the players, i think they have to put up a good determination and be more resilent in dealing with any situation they find themselves. That is what experience could do.

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  • 120. At 1:32pm on 25 Nov 2008, DougCoglan wrote:

    "Fabregas has 5 years but this is hardly what you would call experience"
    Over 200 appearances for Arsenal including over 40 games in the Champions League including a start in the Champions League Final. 37 caps for Spain.

    He's experienced enough. He's intelligent enough. And unlike some players he really wants to win and will fight for the cause.

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  • 121. At 1:42pm on 25 Nov 2008, Nick wrote:

    #101 Wenger has nothing to apologies to Gallas for at all. Call me cynical but these comments came out whilst he was on international duty and in the same week when his autobiography was out in France!! Coincidence or not!!? Gallas is a good center back but he is not and I don't think has ever been a good leader.

    Some people say it's good to see him where is heart on his sleeve but in times of great demand and when a leader should step up Gallas has failed!! Birmingham for one example. He crashed and burned. A good leader keeps things tight and helps. If he throws is toys out of the pram then he does it behind closed doors like Keane did.

    #103 Just wait for a few years if or when the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Man U have huge problems. Why doesn't Wenger mention it. Liverpool's owners are apparently having problems with repaying or refinancing their loans and still can't get the finance for the new stadium. How much more money will RA through at Chelsea as he fortune dwindles with the credit crunch or he gets bored. Also the Glaziers have mortgaged Man U up to the hilt so at some stage they have to pay the £750 million they owe.

    Hopefully do large clubs will have problems but and maybe Wenger looks too much at the financial side of it but that's because he has a degree in economics. I can't see another manager coming in and doing what he has done. So lets just respect Wenger and what he does. Of course he makes mistakes and supports his team. You don't hear him come out in the press and slate his own team, players, board etc. He does it in private.

    Yes he needs to bring in new experienced premiership players to help bring along the new younger players. But he is right in giving Fabregas the captain. He deserves it and has got 200 caps for Arsenal so he does have experience. Yes he's young but as people have said here, just look at Tony Adams or Steven Gerrard. They were very young at the time and have and did grow and improve not just themselves but the team.

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  • 122. At 2:48pm on 25 Nov 2008, ahmed_mtn wrote:

    i actually agreed with phil in the area of backing wenger in terms of giving the ledership to fabregas.but from my own perspective,i think wenger purposely did that just to cement or tie fabregas down cos he knows that all other big clubs accross europe are looking up to signing the playmaker.yes fabregas is a very good player who is very young and has potentials of being the best footballer in the world in a matter of time.nevertheless,i think wenger should not be overwhelmed after giving the captain band to fabregas cos he (Wenger) nedds to buy some more matured players in the midfield to really assist cesc cos i dont think Denilson is up to the task.

    Besides, former captain william gallas should not be over-looked cos from my own view, i think he still has enuf to give in the defence in terms of experience,though age is not on his side but experience matters a lot.i think coach wenger should try and beef up the defence by going for a taller defender to alwayus cover up for gallas and sylvestre.

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  • 123. At 2:55pm on 25 Nov 2008, riyanp wrote:

    I believe people should leave Wenger and Arsenal alone, stop the negative badgering, no one said all this when Arsenal won the league unbeaten. Fine we haven't bought english talent to the club, but we do have potential english players promoting to our senior squad such as Wilshire, Gibbs, Simpson and many more. Finally Fabregas as captain will be amazing as he is a first team regular, doesnt do or say anything bad to Arsenal so leave us alone!!!!

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  • 124. At 3:29pm on 25 Nov 2008, Freddie71 wrote:

    This posting was quite credible until I got to the bit about Alan Hansen....that was when I almost pee myself laughing

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  • 125. At 3:52pm on 25 Nov 2008, footy_analysis - play beautifully - wrote:

    Time will tell I guess but my initial feelings are it's a good move by Wenger.

    Fabregas is in the heart of midfield and has been an influential player for the last few seasons.

    He might become even more influential now he's got the armband.

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  • 126. At 4:38pm on 25 Nov 2008, neova2 wrote:

    Wenger is a man who had, and always will, believe more in the system than the sum of its parts. This is in line with his view that everyone should be a leader on the pitch towards the collective good for the team.

    In Wenger's teams, there would be a couple world class players in the core of the team, supported by a group of average to decent players.

    When playing the Arsenal system, everyone looks equally good, with a few flashes of brilliance from the superstars. On the downside, we are found out to be an average team when our plan A (and the ONLY plan) doesn't work.

    It's no wonder people say Wenger unearths unknown players and made them into stars. In fact, many of them are just average players that were made to look good in an Arsenal system that was functioning in full stride. Some of these players believed in their own hype, asked for a move, and then became a fraction of their former self at their new club. I have yet to see any Arsenal player continuing their ascendency after leaving Arsenal and our system of play.

    So there you have it, we are not a team of world-class players. We're a team of average players (with a few stars) that have been playing in a system that at times produced very effective and devastating football. But in recent years we've been found out and are unable to come up with a plan B. From time to time, teams forget to neutralise us and allowed us to play our game. This season it seems like most teams were very focused on and sticking to their game plan hussling us off possession and defending solidly in the final third which left us with little room to penetrate and no gaps to expose.

    Remember, Wenger believes in his system, not the individual players. That is the reason why he's so blinded when it comes to replacing veterans who leave the club because he firmly believes that if a youth player can be brought in to fill the role then the system will execute itself and get the results based on merrit.

    That's why when we don't get the results, he will say that players are not "sharp" or "fit" (to fully execute Wenger's system and vision) rather than admitting that the players are average at best and most of them don't have that extra quality to win us games when the chips are down.

    Fabergas is now the captain, and part of the spine for the team. Now Wenger just needs to replace the missing pieces (CDM and CB) so that the rest of the supporting team members can execute their own roles within the Arsenal system.

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  • 127. At 5:08pm on 25 Nov 2008, intent wrote:

    well so much for phil talk and all good fans out there.But i really think Mr Arsene Wenger is a stubborn man,who want to show us all that he is right and others are wrong.He see things from his myopic economist views not looking at the reality on ground.Can someone please tell him that he should snap out of it and be real 4 once.I beliv he should show us what he is upto by winning today match.

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  • 128. At 5:08pm on 25 Nov 2008, RVP1968 wrote:

    Alan Hansen has never forgiven Arsenal for the greatest, most dramatic league title smash ever....the "up for grabs" title race of 1989 at Anfield.

    I wouldnt place any stock in anything he has to say about Arsenal ...ever... and not much more in anything else.

    Man Utd fans must snigger everytime everytime he shows his face on MOTD after his comments about kids...

    Liverpool fans will no doubt remember him as an excellent centre half because indeed he was but even they must cringe every time he bigs up Liverpool as title challengers only every year to see their challenge wither just as he finishes the sentence....

    With regard to the comment that there is no one else to take up the reins at the club after Wenger at least in terms of bettering the club...this is true. For those who quote Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho, they obviously dont know what they're talking about.

    You could assemble a whole 25-30 man squad of players who cost 20-30m from these two managers over the last 6-7 years alone!! Wengers bigest ever buy? It is in actual fact (in terms of money actually paid out) Sylvain Wiltord at just 13m, and that was 8 years ago. (Jose Reyes transfer value was eventually alot less than stated).

    Ferguson cannot operate at the level dictated by the transfer funds at Arsenal and neither could Mourinho, who probably spent more at Chelsea in 3 years than Arsenal have in the last 30 years.

    As for the fans who are calling for Wengers head, they should hang theirs in shame....have they no idea what Wenger is trying to achieve? Have they had their heads in the sand along with fans up and down the country who care little for the club?

    They have no idea of the closeness between the board and manager and the mission both of them are on to transform the future of this club forever, especially after Wenger has to leave the club eventually?

    All this said there are some reasonable fans who question what is seen as the stubborn attitude of Wenger especially when it comes to buying experienced players. It is frustrating but would Man Utd fans question the stubborn attitude of Ferguson? No.

    Then why Wenger? Probably because they know that instead of the "hairdryer" treatment they would get from Ferguson, they would likely get a reasoned, intelligent and polite response. Arsene Wenger at the helm of this great club is the only future.

    Anthing else would be an utter disaster.

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  • 129. At 10:17pm on 25 Nov 2008, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    RVP1968 - what did you think of Wenger joining Arsenal?

    Ferguson has also won the title without spending a lot, close in '92, champions in '93.

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  • 130. At 07:16am on 26 Nov 2008, RVP1968 wrote:

    Fatblokedownthe pub wrote:

    RVP1968 - what did you think of Wenger joining Arsenal?

    Ferguson has also won the title without spending a lot, close in '92, champions in '93.


    Like most people, I was particularly non-plussed about it..however unlike most, I had heard of him through his time at Monaco and knew he was respected in football coaching circles.

    Personally I had my doubts about how he could adapt to the rigours of the premiership and the cynical mindset of the British towards foreigners and the French in particular.

    With regard to Ferguson not spending much in the early nineties, this needs to be taken in context of the financial situation in British football at the time, for example Arsenal's record signing was Ian Wright in 1991-1992 season for 2.5m and Man Utd's in 1992 was still Paul Ince at 2.4m and that from 1989!!

    It would be rather foolish of anyone to decry the abilities or achievements of Ferguson and I will not do so either. I merely point out that Man Utd's spending on players over the last 10-15 years far outstrips anything Arsenal or indeed any other club with the exception of Chelsea, (and that over the last 4-5 years only).

    They are traditionally the biggest spenders on transfer fees and in Ferguson's time at the club, he has broken the British transfer record six times. They have spent 210m on just 10 players in the last 6-7 years alone. He currently has 3 first team regulars ranging in value from 27m to a shade under 31m. And this doesnt include Carlos Tevez who is currently on loan and will be expected to sign for similar fees.

    I dont think you can compare the football transfer fee's of the early nineties and the current day. Quite clearly.

    Ferguson could not do what Wenger is doing and operate a top 4 club on a bottom half of the table transfer budget.

    So I think the comparison is totally valid.

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  • 131. At 12:18pm on 26 Nov 2008, SleekPat wrote:

    I think Wenger should go, unless he makes a U-turn on his 'buying policy'. He's got great players in the youth but they need some experienced players amongst them; players like Giggs, Scholes play a vital role in keeping a cool head under difficult conditions. I don't Man. U would be the team they are today without such players, the Ronaldos, Nanis and Roonies would not be able to maintain/be consistent week in week out without the guidence from experienced players. The 'Young Stars' sure have great talent, but they're struggling to maintain their peformance in every game. Sure they can beat any team when they're firing with all pistons; but the fact is - to win the League is like running a marathon, and they're good at short sprints.
    Wenger is definitely a good Coach, I just wish he wouldn't be so stubborn. The proof is in the kind of Football that Arsenal play, very few teams (if any) can match the flair and style that only the Gunners have.
    If Wenger doesn't change his 'buying policy' then I think it's time to let him go; sad day but one that has to come for the sake of us all.

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  • 132. At 12:56pm on 26 Nov 2008, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    RVP1968 - Well he certainly must have removed the doubts you had pretty quickly! I still can't understand what he was doing in Japan at that stage of his career!

    You could be right about Ferguson not being able to operate a top 4 club on a bottom half of the table transfer budget. But I reckon if he took over from Wenger tomorrow he would win a trophy within 3 and a half years, which would prove McNulty wrong. But it's not going to happen so it's all bull.

    It seems that these days you have a manager who can run a club on a tight budget, or one who can win some trophies. The only managers I can think of who have done both in recent years are Wenger and Mourinho at Porto. If I were an Arsenal fan I'd be extremely keen for Wenger to stay, as you clearly are. Good luck.

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  • 133. At 4:56pm on 26 Nov 2008, goonergetit wrote:

    Fab heralds the start of an era, remember these days well Gooners and all footie fan's because when Wenger is gone you' ll not see the likes of this dream again.

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  • 134. At 5:04pm on 26 Nov 2008, Nick wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 135. At 2:00pm on 27 Nov 2008, keybo99 wrote:

    'The Ashley Cole swap deal looks better and better every day!'

    Yes, because Ashley Cole is a saint who never causes any problems!


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