Fabregas is no longer captain of the squad

No matter what the Fab apologists might say, the damage is done. The unending, enduring and voluminous noises made out of of barca have had an effect on Fab. Mostly though, because of Fab’s reluctance to put an end to it. Regardless, every action has a reaction; and in this case, it’s time for Arsene to strip Fab of the armband. Fab is no longer the captain of the squad, at least not in spirit. Fans know this, players know this, and even Fab knows it. For the sake of the Club it’s time to give the armband to its rightful owner: Vermaelen.

As any Arsenal fan will tell you (especially after the Gallas breakdown following the attack on Eduardo), being captain of the squad means quite a bit. As captain, you represent the heart and soul of the team. The captain is the physical embodiment of the Club’s identity.

This is why the captain need not be the best person on the pitch (think John Terry versus, well, everyone else on chelski). Rather, the captain needs to be a rock others rely on when the challenges are at the worst; he must be a vocal leader on the pitch when it matters; and, he has to embody the die hard commitment to the Club as the fans are, while also commanding a natural respect on the pitch with the players.

Hence, the captaincy is given to the player that others (players and fans) will follow because we believe they embody the esprit of the Club. But it is not an incentive for a player to stay. It is not an award to beg the player to stay at the Club. It is an honor.

This preseason’s ruckus with barca has shattered the collective faith in Fab’s ability to lead. Yes, we always knew Fab would return to barca. And, that was okay, we respected that. But we expected more from our captain when that time came. We expected a captain’s response: a clear and final statement of fair-well to allow the club and fans to move forward with a new identity.

Instead, we’ve watched and waited while Fab has tried to have his cake and eat it too. The irony being that should he simply announce he wanted to leave now, we would all respect him for it.

So it’s no surprise that so much has been made of Vermaelen wearing the armband this preseason. We (fans) trust Vermaelen. He plays with the commitment and passion we want to see. He projects the identity we as fans want to see on the pitch from Arsenal. His assassin’s glare and passion give the Club an identity on the pitch. He doesn’t speak much because he doesn’t need to. And the players respond to him as well. Finally, as captain of his national team he understands the importance of the armband and how to maximize its impact.

Vermaelen is our natural captain and should wear the band. No offense to RVP, but forwards rarely make an ideal captain.

To be sure, this is not an attack on Fab’s commitment to give his all or be a professional. We all saw that when he scored with a broken leg. But the role of a captain requires more; it requires the embodiment of an identity and the stability that goes along with that. Neither of which Fab has, and both of which he would  deny he represents, even with all his love for Arsenal.

By transferring the armband to the rightful owner now, Vermaelen, it eases the pressure on Fab and Arsenal. Next summer, when Fab surely leaves, it will be easier on him and the Club. Because Fab no longer embodies the identity of the Club nor will he feel the pressure to embody an identity he doesn’t truly feel. He can leave and we can applaud him. Safe in the knowledge that his loss is just the transfer of a player, not an identity.


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