Arsenal Head Coach Unai Emery has been up against the ropes in recent weeks. The Gunners have failed to perform in fixtures against Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Vitoria S.C. and more recently Sheffield United and Crystal Palace – prompting questions to be asked of Emery and the progress of the team under his leadership.
When it came to light that the players would take part in a secret vote to determine who would be the clubs new captain, Arsenal fans all over the world were left shaking their heads. All of a sudden those who had backed Emery unconditionally began to wonder whether or not his perceived indecision was the sign of a manager desperate to increase his popularity within the dressing room.
In allowing the players to vote on who they would like to see given the armband, there was always a danger of the whole thing becoming a popularity contest, and so when Granit Xhaka was revealed as the players choice, he was always going to have a hard time convincing the supporters the award was on merit alone, as he has always been considered a divisive figure.
Emery now finds himself with a predicament after Sunday’s debacle. Does he strip Xhaka of the captaincy in an attempt to prove to the fans he’s no soft touch and in public condemnation of the Swiss’ behaviour? Or does he risk undermining the decision he allowed his players to make little over a month ago?
When looking at the issue of the captaincy in isolation, a lack of leadership from the outset has come back to haunt the former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla coach. Granted, he couldn’t have foreseen what unfolded at the weekend or even imagined that heading into November he would need to pick up the pieces from an explosion of emotion and rage. Indecision can be equally as damaging as making the wrong one.