Viet Nam News
By Paul Kennedy
A decent captain can win football matches single-handedly, and the Premier League has been blessed with brilliant captains for as long as I can remember.
Steven Gerrard springs to mind instantly. Not really a shouter on the pitch, much more of a doer. He was a captain who led by example. FA Cup final versus West Ham in 2006 was regarded as his final and of course the Champions League blockbuster the year before in Istanbul.
Roy Keane on the other hand was a shouter for sure. A great leader and certainly someone you would not want to cross. He was a captain not afraid to speak his mind, which was just what Manchester United needed to guide the amazing young talent around him at the time.
He still terrifies me now when I seem him on TV as a pundit.
John Terry too was a brilliant captain. Granted, not my favourite human being of all time (ask his former teammate Wayne Bridge for his thoughts) but his off-the-pitch antics aside, on it he was a great leader.
Arsenal have had some crackers as well. Tony Adams may not have been the most cultured of centre backs but he was a Gooner through and through. When Adams barked on the pitch everyone listened.
Adams hung up his boots in 2002 and passed the armband to Patrick Vieira who carried on where Adams had left off, lifting the Premier League and FA Cup, twice.
Arsenal are a team in transition right now with a new manager, Unai Emery, taking over from Arsene Wenger in the summer.
This week he took the unusual step of naming not one, but FIVE captains.
And despite this bold move, in my mind Arsenal are still completely leaderless.
A team doesn’t need five captains, it needs one. And by sticking his neck on the line and choosing five for the coming season, it seems to me Emery has either lost his marbles or can’t find a decent one to choose.
One of his five is Mesut Ozil. A player who can’t even track back when he loses possession.
The so-called “main captain” is Laurent Koscielny who is out injured for the rest of year. Petr Cech (had a howler on Sunday), Aaron Ramsey (not signed a new contract) and Granit Xhaka (who?) make up the rest.
Is this a genius move by Emery to inspire greatness throughout the team? Or does it stink of desperation? I’m leaning towards the latter.
Speaking of great captains, DC United in the MLS have a cracker.
Wayne Rooney was considered over the hill, past his best and ready for the knacker’s yard, not only by Manchester United, but Everton as well.
Granted, his best years are behind him and American soccer (as they wrongly call it) is a million miles from the Premier League standards.
But this weekend old Wazza rolled back the years in style.
If you’ve been living in a bubble for the past few days you will have missed the action.
With DC’s goalkeeper up for a late corner, Orlando cleared quickly and attacked with the net empty.
Rooney sprinted back from the edge of the penalty area, made a superb sliding tackle, rose to his feet and provided an inch perfect long-range pass to tee up Luciano Acosta to head in a dramatic 96th minute winner.
Acosta went wild, the crowd went wild and as for Wayne? Well he just calmly jogged back to the centre circle for the kick-off. Job done.
Wayne grew up a mile or so from where I was born in a place called Croxteth, Liverpool.
It’s a tough old estate for sure and Wayne’s never say die attitude will have been honed playing football as a kid on any patch of grass he could find.
He went on to become one of the greatest English strikers of all time and he has the medal collection to prove it.
With Manchester United, Wayne won the Premier League five times, the FA Cup once, League Cup three times, Europa League once and of course, the Champions League.
His stateside stint may just be a last dance for Wayne before he calls it a day. Cynics may argue he’s only there for the money and I’m sure the pay packet he was offered was a major factor in his decision making.
But what I saw in the final seconds of the DC United game was a hungry kid from Croxteth chasing down a lost cause for the good of the team.
Exactly what Arsenal need right now. — VNS