Do The Right Thing, Not Things Right

What Cesc Fabregas needs to do in order to become the unquestionable leader of Arsenal? Sometimes, he will have to go against his boss nature, and just do something wrong

Denilson, another mediocre Brazilian midfielder who plays in a top English club just because he is from Brazil (if he was from Uzbekistan nobody would have noticed him), had questioned Cesc Fabregas’ leadership this week.

In an interview with “Arsenal Brasil and Arseblog”, Denilson claimed that he feels the Gunners “lack leadership” and “Fábregas is the captain, but he is not a leader to me”.

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, was quick to dismiss the suggestion that Cesc is not a leader and said that “we have many leaders in our team and we are very happy with our captain”.

Wenger also said that “We have a shared leadership in our team but I believe what is important in the way we want to play football is that everyone takes responsibility”.

Wenger loves this kind of phrases – “shared leadership” and “everyone taking responsibility”. It sounds like a mantra of a partner in a law firm or of a hedge fund manager talking to his workers.

Only football is not a law firm or an investment bank, it is much more primitive than that, almost tribal, and it’s more human than a hedge fund firm. As such, it needs the rough edges.

A football club needs its alpha male who will take the leadership of the team after he had confronted his challengers. Only Wenger doesn’t like to have his team run like that. According to former player Tony Adams, Wenger “hates confrontation” and rather solve problems through deep thinking and extensive dialogue.

As it was written here before, Wenger is a great director, a cooperate manager, who brings great profits to Arsenal because of sound management.

But the Problem is that management doesn’t always equate leadership. Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Arsenal, with Wenger on the sidelines, is a club that does everything right, and Cesc is a player who does all the things right like he was told by his manager. But a football team needs to be more like a group of gladiators rather than a group of successful lawyers.

The “right thing” is to do sometimes something that is wrong for the god of the team. In 2003 Martin Keown led the mobbing of Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and he was wrong in doing that by all accounts. But what Kewon did was the right thing for the team. Only a few days before that decisive game in Old Trafford, Arsenal lost 3-0 at home to Inter, and it badly needed a burst of confidence.

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Keown has laid there the mental foundations to a team of “bad asses” that finished the season unbeatable. That thing Keown has done was wrong and violent, but it was exactly what Arsenal needed – the mental state that gave the team a rough edge.

Arsenal has lost this rough edge in the past few years, and this loss is one of the main reasons why Arsenal isn’t winning any titles despite doing all the “things right”.

So, is Cesc a leader? Well, he still needs to prove he can do things right but also the right thing.

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