The player vote for Arsenal’s five captains this season wasn’t actually Unai Emery’s idea, according to a report.
The Mirror report that Arsenal psychologist David Priestley came up with the idea of a player vote to try and share leadership duties with the squad. Emery has had to bear the brunt of the criticism for it all the same, particularly after Xhaka’s falling out with the fans.
Personally, I never thought the idea of a player vote was a bad one. The majority of the captain’s role involves interacting with the team to get important messages across, so it’s a good thing if the captain is someone the players all like.
The issue, for me, was far more in the incredibly drawn-out nature of the process. We went for months without a captain being appointed, and even when Rob Holding revealed the existence of the player vote to the public, it was still another couple of weeks until the result was made official.
Perhaps everything would have played out the same way even if Granit Xhaka had been named captain on day one of the season, but I doubt it.
The intense focus on the decision came directly as a result of the length of time it took to make the call. It made Emery look weak and indecisive, and appeared as if he had no confidence in the eventual choice.
In the meantime, Xhaka made himself more unpopular with the fans by giving away a penalty against Tottenham Hotspur.
If the decision had already been made at that point, it would just be something they had to live with, but because it hadn’t, the fans were even more vociferous in their criticism, hoping they could convince the club to pick someone else.
The club set Xhaka up to fail by turning the whole thing into a circus, but the player vote was the only part I actually had no problem with.