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    Captains, Managers and Legends


    List of Arsenal players who were foreign and captain.

    O’Leary, Henry, Vermaelen, Vieira, Arteta, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gallas, Aubameyang Lacazette, Fabregas, Van Persie, Xhaka, Odegaard.


    My team from the above list with Pat Jennings in goal


    Gallas (France) O’Leary (Ireland) Koscielny (France) Vermaelen (Belgium)

    Fabregas (Spain)  Vieira (France)

    Odegaard (Norway)

    Lacazette (France) Henry (France) Van Persie (Nederlands)


    Mertesacker (bfGerman), Arteta (Spain), Xhaka (Switzerland), Aubameyang (Gabon)

    All foreign captains

    Do you know that Arsenal hasn’t had a non-foreign captain since a little-known player called Tony Adams was captain from 1988 to 2002? Well, now you do. Declan Rice is the strongest candidate at the moment but I suspect Odegaard may be there for all the time Rice is, but you never know.


    David O'Leary was our first foreign captain

    We have had 13 foreign captains since David O’Leary in 1980-83 and I decided to see what sort of team I could make from them. A good one as it happens. We haven’t had a goalkeeper so I stuck in Pat Jennings as the only other option is one of the subs.  Perhaps Mertesacker might do a job but let’s stick with Jennings.

    A strong defence

    We didn’t have any dedicated fullbacks but Vermaelen fairly regularly played there and Gallas sometimes did so that’s what we have. They will be fine.


    Arteta - Captain, manager and our greatest?

    I went for Koscielny and O’Leary although a strong case could be made for Mertesacker. Koscielny played more matches 353, and scored more goals 27, than Mertesacker 221 and 10. O’Leary has played more matches than anybody.  A top-notch centreback pairing either way.

    A great midfield

    Midfield was where the hardest decisions were. I left out Arteta and Xhaka even though I know Arteta will probably take his revenge on me by barring me from the stadium. Don’t try to outfox me, Mikel, I will find a way in, don’t you worry. Vieira had to be in, for sure, and Odegaard to me also. I chose Fabregas as he was versatile and could play out wide when needed. We can all agree that is a super midfield as all can knock in goals when required. 33 for Paddy, 57 for Fabregas, and the young boy Martin has 35 already.

    Goals galore

    It wasn’t too difficult up top as Thierry Henry is a cert. Van Persie at 132 goals has to be next. Aubameyang should be next but I feel Lacazette would be better out wide as 3 centre strikers is too much. Aubameyang thus misses out but is a useful guy to call on if needed.


    Vieira - our greatest foreign captain?

    This team, at their best, would cause any team a big problem. What formation? To me, I would go for 4-2-1-3 with Odegaard just behind the attackers to give them all sorts of supply.  Goals for sure. I suspect Arsenal are unusual in having so many attacking players as captain. For some reason, fullbacks are rarely captains, nor wingers, probably because they are on the wings. Central players are the most usual choice. None of our captains mentioned here are usually a fullback or a winger. And hey, I would make Arteta player-manager although he might just insist on playing himself.

    Who is the best Arsenal captain/manager?

    How about Arsenal captains as managers? We have had some, Don Howe, Terry Neill and Mikel Arteta.  How do they rank against each other?  George Graham never captained us but he would have clearly been the best up to now.


    King Terry who brought us close to the top

    Terry Neill got almost 8 years, the longest of the three but only one trophy, the Liam Brady final of 1979. As a player he had 10 years, 241 appearances and 8 goals, not bad for a central defender. I think, crucially, what he did well was he brought us consistency after a disastrous dip under Bertie Mee which had us in the relegation zone. We were up in the top half of the table all the time although our best finish was 3rd in 1981. Neill will be remembered for the legends he had under him, Liam Brady, Pat Jennings, Pat Rice, Malcolm Macdonald, David O’Leary, Frank Stapleton, Charlie Nicholas, Tony Woodcock, and almost, if the press are to be believed, Diego Maradona.

    Don Howe was a truly great coach

    Don Howe was heavily involved in the 3 cups of the Bertie Mee team as the first team coach and the essential football brain of the Arsenal. I doubt if they could have been won without him. The same would have been true of Terry Neill’s time, the four finals, including the win against Manchester United, were ours because of the work, tactics and knowledge of one of England’s finest coaches. He was the rock upon which Bertie Mee and Terry Neill relied.


    Don Howe - a legend among coaches

    As a manager he never won anything and he lasted just two years, but he did introduce Tony Adams, David Rocastle and Niall Quinn. I think though that I will give him second place because of his high involvement in winning 4 trophies. He also played 70 league games and scored one goal. But he was that rare breed, a full back who became a captain and manager.

    Our rookie comes good

    And so to Mikel Arteta, already 5 years on the job. Ok, he has only one serious trophy, the FA Cup of 2020 but he got us two second place finishes against the current behemoths of the Premier League, Manchester City, and maybe they will become firsts, if City are sanctioned. Considering who he had to overcome to get those second places, Liverpool under Klopp, Chelsea, with unlimited money, Manchester United, by some counts the richest club in the world, and Tottenham, who had finally got the better of Arsene Wenger and were laughing at us. Plus the newly rich Newcastle and a resurgent Aston Villa under a tenacious Unai Emery. The competition is tough but only Arsenal and Arteta gave City a real battle these past two seasons. I will place him number one of our captain/managers because of all this and we all hope he will go on to capture the big trophies.

    As a player he had 150 appearances and 16 goals. The second statistic is not so impressive as he was our penalty taker and I can’t remember him missing one so he must have scored very little from open play.

    Legends because of all they did

    The three, as players, would not be regarded as legends, although Neill, with ten years had by far the most games. Arteta had 2 FA Cups and 2 Charity Shields as a player which puts him on top in the trophy metric. The other two had no trophies.

    Howe, as a coach, is clearly the top one of the three, with his work as England first team coach under Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson and Terry Venables coinciding with the strongest spell England had since the World Cup win in 1966. He would have been regarded as one of the best coaches in the world in his prime. It never really happened for him as manager. An Arsenal legend as a coach for sure.

    Can Arteta be the greatest of all?

    Arteta’s role now is quite a bit different from the other two. Probably he is more akin to Howe’s position as a coach as he is in charge of football matters but a lot of the additional duties are performed by other parts of his team.

    Terry Neill, with his total body of work for the Arsenal, is an Arsenal legend. Don Howe can easily claim the same. And Arteta? I feel he can potentially go on to be our greatest. He is only 42. Arsene Wenger, our supreme ACE, was almost 47 when he pitched up at Highbury.


    Will it go to 75,000?

    There is talk of an extension to the ground to 75,000. The Kroenke’s seem to be excellent financial managers. We have many players ready to hit their peak. This is the most optimistic I have ever been about Arsenal since Wenger was butting heads with Mr Ferguson. Can this be our year and the one where Mikel Arteta takes his place among the great managers?  Can he be the first Arsenal captain to manage a title winning Arsenal team? You betcha!


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