By Richard Popple
When Kolo Toure stated his interest to be captain of Arsenal next season, it struck me as rather odd. Why wasn’t Kolo captain this season? He has led Arsenal on rare occasions in the past, mainly young sides in the Carling Cup, but has never been made long term captain. The question is why? Arsene Wenger has said that William Gallas’s reign as captain is under review. I believe this has more to do with his lack of leadership when Arsenal were struggling in March, rather than his infamous sit down at the end of the draw at Birmingham. Gallas tends to come across as quite an abrasive and stubborn man and I don’t think he would take being stripped of the armband too well. It would be interesting to see how he would react and indeed whether he stays at the club if this happens.
So is Kolo a candidate should Wenger feel it’s time for a change? I for one don’t think so. Toure said himself he felt like a leader whenever he plays for Arsenal and that’s exactly what he needs to do: play well for Arsenal. His form dipped alarmingly following his return from the ANC in February. He got injured whilst playing for Ivory Coast and was probably brought back too quickly, but by his very high standards he has not had the best season.
The other candidates are Fabregas and Flamini. Fabregas in my opinion is too young and has enough responsibilities in this team without the armband. He makes Arsenal tick and when he is playing well, Arsenal generally do. Cesc should be left alone to concentrate on playing for a couple more years, so that he can mature and improve even further. That leaves Flamini. Wenger is always a very cool customer when it comes to rumours and possible transfers. He has however outdone himself with the Flamini – Milan saga. Today he has again re-affirmed his confidence that Flamini will stay and it may well be, that his confidence is backed up by his knowing something that we don’t. Perhaps he has offered Flamini the captaincy in a bid to keep the midfielder? I would love Flamini to stay and I think he would be an excellent choice. He is dynamic, verbal in his encouragement and always behaves in a professional way.
This leads me onto the player of the season. Four members of the Arsenal side were included in the Premiership team of the year. One however who was not is Flamini, who in my opinion was the best player this year. He has transformed himself from being nothing more than a fringe player on the verge of leaving, to being one of our most prized assets. His form has been consistent over the whole season, unlike Ade or Hleb who’s performances have ebbed and flowed slightly. He has also scored a few important goals as well as working tirelessly. He has helped change the dynamic of the team from last season and has definitely made Arsenal more combative and less of the pushovers that they were becoming – especially away from home. But of course the ‘player of the season’ award is very subjective. Please give your opinions in the comments section….