Who's Your Captain?

The football purist cannot but be smitten with the way Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal play the beautiful game.  Common sense and balanced fairplay advocates though, can only bear listening to half of what the Manager himself says.  That’s the half that avoids the plainly one-eyed appraisal of life skewed haplessly towards his team’s favour yet having no resemblence to reality.  This ugly half tends to rear its head whenever a perceived injustice derails them.  What started life as amusing has been beyond embarassing for years now and has left fellow potential practitioners like Ferguson and Mourinho looking like amateurs.  Blair and Brown’s Labour government wrote a new rulebook on seeing our Arsene in action.

Which is probably why The Fourth Estate cackle at any hint of unrest within the Gunners’ walls.  We’ve just had their captain stripped of the armband for an “outburst”, supposedly “lashing out” at his team-mates for lacking the warrior spirit.  Now, I’ve read the transcripts of this, as gleefully displayed by journos.  And I find myself in sympathy for the sacked leader.  He was stitched up, what he said needed saying, and it needed a leader to say it.

Nevertheless, Wenger elected to find a new Captain.  Yet he appeared surprisingly unperturbed at the task in hand.  He gave a few fascinating insights into the necessities of leadership.  These include:

  • his belief was that there should be “no one providential player in the dressing room”, intimating that the presence of such an individual is usually mythical and destructive.
  • such a figure is more concerned with duties regarding the external presentation of and communication for the team
  • any true team has “shared leadership”

(added insight: in his programme notes for their fortunate one-nil win over Dynamo Kiev Tuesday night, I gather Wenger said “leaders are developed, not born”.)

So, next time you seek a sales team leader, to follow the World According To Wenger, you might want to spread the responsibilities as much as possible.

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