Captains tend to be brilliant leaders, have great communication skills, or a bit of both.
I’m not sure that’s Granit Xhaka but Arsenal aren’t blessed with a host of players who fit that description and someone’s got to wear the armband.
In fact I’m not sure what Xhaka is great at. Yes, he comes up with the odd moment of brilliance – usually a spectacular long-range shot – but those are few and far between.
So I can understand fans’ frustration that an inconsistent player has been made skipper.
When Arsenal supporters cheered his substitution in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at home to Crystal Palace, it wasn’t about getting Xhaka off at any cost. Unai Emery was making an attacking change to try to win the game and that deserved to be applauded.
Instead of sulking at the decision and trudging off slowly, which angered some Gunners fans, Xhaka should have been grown-up about it. He ought to have understood what was best for the team, supported that objective and argued about it later.
What followed was regrettable. Responding to boos by swearing at home fans and taking off his shirt as he marched straight down the tunnel was stupid and, as a professional, he must now come out and apologise.
Xhaka must not let this issue fester. It tears at the very fabric of the club, leaving everyone – not least the manager – open to criticism, draws attention to a negative situation and distracts from the important task of getting results.
Emery’s muddled thinking
Emery may deserve some criticism too, since he doesn’t seem to understand the traditional importance of the captaincy in English football.
Wearing the armband is an honour that is supposed to recognise and reward the leader of the group.
Naming five captains, as Emery did at the start of the season, could be seen as the Spaniard not seeing anyone as up to the job.
Perhaps it is that Emery sees himself as the only leader that matters, and isn’t looking for anyone to be his go-to man on the field. But I don’t think that approach works.
Xhaka acted in the heat of the moment and frustration at his own poor performance probably played a part.
Captains have been taken off before and he is not the first player to respond like that.
It is rare, though. You would never have seen Arsenal’s great captains like Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira or Cesc Fabregas throw a huff at having a bad game, and the key thing now is how Xhaka reacts.
If he apologises promptly – and he is yet to, at the time of writing this – then I think he can go on being captain.
I believe fans would appreciate it on a human level and we may even see him approach the role with a new attitude.
He would know that in those situations he has to be the bigger man and, if subbed again when having a poor game, make sure you jog off.
If he doesn’t, then I don’t see how he can continue to lead the team.
It would be very disrespectful to Arsenal fans and he is not a good enough player to ride that wave.
Main image credit: Getty