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People’s vote on Arsenal skipper?

OPINION: Nearly anybody other than Granit Xhaka would connect better with the people coming through the turnstiles

07 November, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Former Arsenal skipper Tony Adams

THE story goes that they all had a vote, came to a decision, but when the terrible consequences of the result became apparent to more people, something had to be done.

But you’ve probably heard enough about Brexit by now.

Switcheroo! I was, of course, referring to Unai Emery’s inability to himself choose an Arsenal captain in pre-season and hid decision to hold an internal election for the post.

The squad, we are asked to believe, selected Granit Xhaka for the armband.

I haven’t actually trusted the published results of any vote since 2007 when it was revealed that Blue Peter had named the studio cat “Socks”. An awful name, obviously, but worse because viewers had been invited to take part in an online poll and the “will of the goody-goody children not watching Knightmare on ITV” was that the cat should be called “Cookie”.

The CBBC smallprint, no doubt, said the vote was only an advisory referendum, as it should’ve been when the Arsenal players were scrawling down names and handing them back to Unai.

It is one thing to ask Arsenal fans – paying some of the highest ticket prices in the country – to watch Xhaka’s performances each week, but a bridge too far to accept him into a role which Tony Adams held with pride and power.

I’m assuming footballers, largely brimming with self-confidence from the fat cheques paid to kick a ball around a pitch, simply all voted for themselves, meaning they all had one vote each. But Saka’s handwriting looked like he was voting for Xhaka, and the rest was history.

As botched as Arsenal’s captaincy election was – Xhaka was removed from the role on Tuesday evening – a bit more democracy in football is not a bad endeavour.

Last month, Jeremy Corbyn suggested that if he becomes prime minister he will somehow order Premier League clubs to have supporters on the board.

Presumably, he doesn’t mean any of the guests on Arsenal Fan TV whose industrial language and explosions of anger may be running before we can walk.

But it’s ironic that as social media gives everybody a platform, the relationship between fans and the governors of their clubs seems more remote than ever.

It wouldn’t have needed the most expansive consultation survey for somebody from the stands to politely advise that nearly anybody other than the frustrating figure of Xhaka would connect better with the people coming through the turnstiles. Some advisory help might be beneficial, as Arsenal keep picking the wrong man.

Hector Bellerin, and one day in the future Matteo Guendouzi, and even Francis Tierney, given the attitude he has already shown, seem like choices which would sit more comfortably with the supporters.

A people’s vote, then, and let’s all have a say.


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