As the Arsenal Turns: thanks to B*rc* Fab is no longer the real captain, but that’s good

It's not easy being El Capitan

This season’s soap opera is already unfolding before our eyes. And true to a quality telenovela, it will be daily, dramatic and emotional for those involved and those watching. Fab is facing a loss of esteem by his own creation. It’s a hard lesson for one so used to being loved. But the race is on to replace Fab as the face of Arsenal and it has all the makings of a fun year long drama. And football fans love nothing more than a good telenovela.

Just like any telenovela, there’s the background story. For Arsenal, the implosion of the Invincibles and the rise of the prodigy Fabregas create the backdrop. The initial protagonist, Don Gallas, was a mercenary brought in to cover for the loss of one of the main, but recurring characters, Cashley. The actor had a better offer on another show. Experienced and tough, Don Gallas was also an emotional train wreck. The Eduardo incident the audience understood, but his locker room battles with Toure left the audience aghast.

Then like a phoenix, the captaincy was stripped from Senor Gallas when he committed the second worst of sins: insulting la familia in public. The worst sin of course being John Terry. Period. With heavenly organs playing in the background, the young Savior Fabregas took his anointed position to lead Arsenal to the promised land.

"He was an Angel!" -Dr. Thaddeus Venture (Venture Bros.)

Alas, telenovelas are never that simple. If they were, who would watch? Instead, the emotional roller coaster has continued. Under Fab’s leadership, Arsenal continues to have a reputation of a team without the fortitude to win. Stunning quality raises the audience’s spirit, but the players seem to disappear against other big teams, leaving the fans distraught. Many say this is because Arsenal lacks the quality to compete.

But here’s another thought: Arsenal lacked the fortitude because the wrong people were leading the team. First Gallas, now gone by the grace of ego. Now, Fab, stuck by the curse of a financial crisis.

Enter the new protagonist, the succubus known as b*rc*. Another recurring character, this cougar is a man-eater that has destroyed countless relationships. Loved and hated by the audience, drama follows her everywhere. Quickly spotting the innocent Fab, she strikes, destabilizes his life with wild promises. For three months she promises the young man untold joy, but he resists. Still the doubts are there. He knows he’ll follow her, he wants to follow her -he has mommy issues -but he decides to stay for one more year.

The audience cringes and worries, what will happen this year? Will Fab play as well? How will the team react? Is all lost? All summer the audience is glued to their televisions (computers). Thankfully, Fab lives up to his reputation. After a few rough games getting to match fitness, he begins to hit second gear and destroys a want-away Bolton team. But the doubts persist. Fab’s open flirtation with the succubus has created an opportunity for other players to take on a bigger role.

Indeed, the exit of Gallas, combined with Fab’s flirtation with the succubus has launched a new season in “As the Arsenal Turns”.

Because while Fab is still “el capitan,” he is no longer “El Capitan.” The anointed one is no longer anointed. The king has no clothes.

Did it ever really work?

Don Gallas was the leader of the team by virtue of experience. And the anointed one, King Fab, was a natural leader on the since the team centers around his skills. As a result the youngsters followed Gallas but didn’t seem to like him and they followed Fab because he was the best player. Neither, however, were able to impose their will on the cast of characters as a Captain should. I mean, did this tandem ever work? Who did it convince?

That's no ordinary Squirrel!

Now, with Gallas set to play a recurring, but no longer protagonist character as a homeless man with the sp*ds, the final locker room cancer is gone. New characters are starting to develop and assert their identity: Vermaelen is the key, but I’ll get back to that later. On the field, Song has begun to break his silence. Walcott has shown he doesn’t need Fab. Rosicky (now that he’s healthy) has created a subplot as he connives to rejoin the first XI as a creative force. And a new character, Squillaci (the most terrifying squirrel) just joined the show, but  already yells at everyone. It’s his Shakespearian training I’m guessing.

But there’s more off the field. Fab is no longer Mr. Arsenal. His open desire to leave has opened up a space for other players to become the newly anointed. Nasri is the most vocal. Watch his interview on ArsenalTVonline. He makes it clear that he’s Arsenal through and through AND very subtly points out that Fab is not in the most backhanded drama a real telenovela would appreciate.  You have to listen carefully since he doesn’t mention Fab by name, but Nasri is uncompromising in his statements about how much a player can control instigating or ending rumors.

And Nasri isn’t the only one. You can add RVP, Rosicky, Vermaelen, Denilson and even Squillaci to that list. All have made unsolicited comments about their commitment to the Club and to Arsene. Vermaelen of course going the distance by saying that Fab told them he wanted to leave for b*rc* and that it is an honor to play for Arsenal.

From one man show to an ensemble cast. The curtain has been raised on Act II!

This is not to say that Fab won’t be the star of the show. He is a complete professional. And his game against Bolton proved that without a doubt. But he might have lost the team as the leading actor. That’s the difference. The lack of steel of last season already seems to have disappeared as these players are beginning to stand up and say: “This team is ours, we know you are going to leave. There is no more instability since we know the final episode and when it will happen.” Something that couldn’t happen without the interference of the succubus.

Oy! I'm speaking English now!

Which brings us to the next likely protagonist: Vermaelen. Vermaelen is making a clear run at being captain. His statements about Fab wanting to leave combined with the claim that everyone wants to play for Arsenal dictate the season’s story line. That’s locker room politics pure and simple. He’s appealing to the fans, the players and Le Boss. Vermaelen tasted captaincy during the pre-season and he liked it. Maybe more important, he knows the fans liked him as captain. Even if it doesn’t happen this season, which it shouldn’t. The underlying drama will be there as Vermaelen strives to show what a Captain really is.

So watch it unfold with me my friends. Fab will be “el captain” this season, but he won’t be “El Capitan” unless something changes. But that’s okay since it might be just what this team needs to win this year.

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