An interesting series of quotes can be found here at the Telegraph which apparently emanate from Cesc Fabregas whilst with the Spanish squad. The story is all over the other papers, but you can actually read the quotes at the Telegraph, rather than the spin that the media wants to whip it into.
The quotes reveal, I think, a lot of stuff that has been apparent to us fans for a long time. The Arsenal team is short of a cutting edge - Cesc calls us impotent - and everyone is pretty pissed off about it, the team moral is not good and the players don't get on that well together. And surprise, surprise, if Real Madrid offered Cesc a disgusting amount of money, then his Barcelona supporting family would forgive him for taking it.
The quotes were presumably generated from an interview with the Madrid friendly press, and its pretty predictable stuff. I am not the sort of person who expects Cesc Fabregas to declare his undying love for Arsenal, since that would almost certainly be untrue. In fact, I quite respect Cesc for saying it how it is. In this summer of make-believe money, where Gareth Barry tells us moving to Man City is for footballing reasons, where Ronaldo goes to Madrid because there is nothing else to win with Manure, I am pleased to see Cesc come out with some stuff that is pretty near the truth.
However, I also find it pretty depressing that things have got so bad at Arsenal. If I was lucky enough to be a professional footballer, I would have a whale of a time. Whilst Perry Groves' book does show how difficult it is to be on the fringes of success, and how out of control things were back then sometimes, the modern footballer is so well paid by average standards that a story like Perry's is never going to be repeated in the Premier League, especially not at Arsenal.
The senior players usually set the tone, and whilst we all hate them to bits, people like Terry and Lampard at Chelsea, or Rio at Manure, seem to be excellent leaders of men and build a good rapport with their team mates and their manager.
When I consider that Cesc's quotes are from one of our 'senior pros', indeed the captain of Arsenal, at aged 22, I really think we have a big problem. Can you imagine the captain of any other serious team coming out with this sort of stuff and getting away with it? Its unthinkable that Terry, Rio or Gerrard would even dream of saying this.
I have posted many times on this blog that a group of well organised, well motivated players can achieve things that seem well beyond their capabilities on paper. Conversely, a group of badly organised and poorly motivated players will always underperform.
I don't know who the bad-eggs are within the Arsenal dressing room, but Cesc, along with the other senior pros (Gallas, Adebayor, Kolo, Almunia, RVP) who have been at the club for a while must take the blame for this. And so must Arsene Wenger, whose man-management in recent years has been extremely questionable on occasion, especially when it comes to the captaincy and moving on good old pros like Gilberto, Pires etc, all of whom would have the respect of the youngsters and would help maintain the team spirit at Arsenal.
The only player I see as a real captain for Arsenal at the moment is Kolo Toure. Whatever his faults as a player (which I think are all over-emphasised), he plays with passion, motivation and determination. He is also our longest serving player. When Gallas lost the Captaincy last year, Kolo was my vote to take the mantle. Arsene knew better and appointed Cesc Fabregas as captain, in his usual way of trying to keep our so-called best player by making him captain (like that worked with Vieira or Henry).
Whilst Cesc may be saying the truth at the moment, its also worth remembering that Gallas lost the captaincy for doing a very similar thing, maybe in a more self-promoting way with his book deal (has anyone seen the book?). Frankly, they are about as bad as each other.