Wojciech the Role-Model


A few days ago some quotes started surfacing from an interview that Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny gave to a Polish website. In case you haven't seen them (and since this is the only Arsenal website you ought to be looking at, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU HAVE SEEN THEM), here are the money quotes.

Wojciech, on leadership:

I feel that when I say something, everyone listens to me. More so on the field than in the dressing room, but that's more important I think. I want to be the captain of the team. I feel that I am able to take on that responsibility. I always wanted to be captain and if I ever get that honour, I will gladly put on the armband.


Wojciech, on his Arsenal career:

I can't declare that I will spend my entire career here, but if I leave I will have a very important reason or I will go to Barcelona. I can't imagine a situation where I would leave this club just for money.


So yeah, that's pretty fun. Though it should be no new thing for most of us who have been following this club closely in recent years, one of our players gave an interview that got taken out of context and blown out of proportion. This one irks me more than others have, though, because it's making something bad out of something that I honestly think is quite good.

First of all, the transfer quotes. It would be silly to "declare" that he's a Gunner for life, as that's not all in his hands. Players get sold. It happens. While I want Szczesny in Arsenal's goal for a long time, maybe things will change in an unforeseen way. What I like is the fact that he says that if he does go, he'll have a good reason for it. It seems he cares enough about the club not to pull a Nasri (or at least he does at the moment), and I'm behind him for that. I also agree with something I saw on Twitter (found here): in Poland, the assumption was that the Barcelona reference was not a request or a dream of his, but rather a bit of a subtle dig at Cesc Fabregas. That's how I read it as well, and honestly I think it's hilarious (and judging by his Twitter history, classic Szczesny).

But the main thing is the supposed "captaincy row." The whole thing is ridiculous because even if the quotes were mistranslated (I don't know what language the interview was given in, but I do know that Szczesny is quite fluent in English and may have done it in that or in Polish), I've seen them reported only one way - the way I reproduced them above - and I'm not really sure how that reads as "Robin van Persie is an awful captain, and I want his job." To me it sounds more like this:

I never said I deserve an Arsenal armband. I said that I would love to one day take a responsibilty of being an Arsenal skipper...RVP is doing a great job as a skipper and he fully deserves an armband.

Oh, sorry. That wasn't me, just Szczesny himself, clearing up this whole mess on Twitter. Don't you just love the Internet? He also said to keep up the Barca rumors because they make him laugh, so there's that too.

This is a whole lot of bluster about something that I actually think is a positive. I think every Arsenal player should think he can be captain and should aspire to that. What's the one thing we've supposedly lacked the past couple of seasons? No, not "a functioning defense," shut up. It's leadership. During Cesc's concurrent captaincy/transfer drama, the knock on us was that we didn't really have a captain committed to us, and that we hadn't any on-pitch leadership. On the other hand, this year we couldn't decide between Robin and Thomas Vermaelen for the armband, and we bought (if I count right) five former captains of either club or national sides in the summer window. If we have a lot of players who see themselves as possible captains, that means we have a lot of players on the pitch at any one time who are capable of being leaders. That's a good thing. What we need to do is to support that and cultivate it, make it known that we expect all players to act like a captain - not to tell people like Szczesny to shut up and get in line.

Robin van Persie has the armband, and he has it for a reason. We don't need a bloodless coup. But he surely could do with a few lieutenants to back him, and if that's going to happen this is the mentality our players should have. Every player can be a leader without the team devolving into anarchy. And that's what's best for the team.

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