WINNER: Arsenal are desperate for a leader in the mould of Tony Adams. AFP/VNA Photo
If you were to Google the phrase “no-nonsense footballer” the picture that should appear on your screen would be that of Tony Adams, the former Arsenal captain who made 504 appearances for the north London club between 1983 and 2002.
He wasn’t particularly classy, and silky was not a word you could use when talking about the central defender’s playing style. But one thing is for sure, he got the job done.
I remember watching Tony play circa late 80s, early 90s, and every touch of the ball he made was accompanied by thousands of Liverpool fans chanting ‘eeyore,’ the noise made by a donkey.
That was his nickname, donkey.
He didn’t mess about, took no prisoners and week after week threw his body on the line for the good of Arsenal.
Yes, the football he played may have been akin to that of a donkey, but boy he really was the best donkey around.
His England record is not to be sniffed at either, representing his country 66 times over 13 years.
He won what was then the First Division title twice, won the Premiership twice and picked up three FA Cup winning medals.
Adams was a leader. A captain in the true sense of the word. He would, and often did, sweat blood and tears for the shirt he wore.
You won’t find an Arsenal fan on the planet who doesn’t love Tony Adams and I’ve no doubt there are many teenagers called Anthony, or even Adam, named in honour of the centre half.
Arsenal today have a different sort of captain. Granit Xhaka is chalk compared to Adam’s cheese. They are polar opposites and on Sunday after a disappointing 2-2 home draw with Crystal Palace, Xhaka was substituted to a chorus of boos after yet another poor performance.
What he did as he left the field has been well documented, and doesn’t need me to repeat words he directed at the home supporters.
It’s safe to say it wasn’t very pleasant.
Tony's unique form of training with Granada in Spain.
There is a school of thought that says supporters shouldn’t boo their own players and when the chips are down, must get behind their team.
Yet the reaction of Xhaka was nothing short of abhorrent. He is the captain of Arsenal and his behaviour was diabolical.
Can you see Tony Adams doing that? No, not at all.
And that for me is the root of Arsenal’s problem. Not only do they lack leadership, but really, since Adams hung up his boots many years ago, they still haven’t found a captain in the same mould.
William Gallas held the armband, he gave up. Cesc Fabregas took it, he went on strike. Robin Van Persie had a go, he then went public saying he wanted to leave, before leaving for Manchester United, then Loren Koscielny took it, before also going on strike.
So the million-dollar question being asked at the Emirates Stadium right now is - what next for Xhaka?
Rumour has it he never even bothered sticking around until the end of the game and left before the full time whistle, not at all the actions of a leader. Not at all the actions of Tony Adams.
Taking a look at the Arsenal squad right about now I’m struggling to see a leader among them. In fact, the only one I believe can do the job is Kieran Tierney, which is ridiculous considering he has only played four times for the Gooners.
But that’s how bad things are.
Tierney played more than 100 times for Celtic before his big money move south and there’s no doubt the Hoops faithful don’t suffer fools.
I say give him the armband. He has already captained Scotland at international level and worn the armband for Celtic.
He is not Tony Adams, simply because there will never be another Tony Adams.
But right now, he is the best candidate for the job. As for Xhaka, if he never wears the Arsenal shirt again, it will be too soon. VNS