Farewell, Captain Fantastic

Not many players play on with a broken leg. That’s my overriding memory of Cesc Fabregas, scoring a penalty, breaking his leg in the process (or damaging it further) and playing on for the last 5 minutes. Hobbling around, shouting, organising and corralling his team-mates.

It’s said to see Fabregas go, it feels like we never really matched his potential. He’s a World Cup winner, and there’s something down inside me that thinks that last season, winning the league might have convinced him to stay for another year or so. I think the way in which we capitulated was realistically always going to accelerate his departure. I mean, would you want to be within touching distance every year and fall short in the final months? Or would you want to be lifting trophies? Arsenal should have been winning trophies with a footballer as talented as Fabregas in the side – which makes me fear for Robin Van Persie next.

There are some who question Fabregas as a leader – and I’m one of them. The captaincy fell to him by default almost, and seemed to weigh him down at times, like it did Henry. Not only was he carrying the team, he was carry their leadership – expected to win matches as well as well as keep the team from collapsing – as at Newcastle, it didn’t always work.

But that takes nothing away from the player, who will surely thrive at the Camp Nou with the weight of a captains expectation lifted from his shoulders. Rotating into the Barca squad, he’ll be fresh and hungry, eager to take Xavi’s place.

I hope

Cesc does well, on a personal level, but I hope Barcelona fail to win anything for the next 100 years because Cesc aside, they’re a bunch of horrible tossers for obvious reasons.

So attention will inevitably turn to replacements. Thomas Rosicky has been exceptional in pre-season and played well against Newcastle – but his days of 40 game seasons (hell, 90 minute matches) are firmly behind him, he’ll probably only be backup. Nasri, who’s chance this is, has backed away, and turns to Manchester. Hopefully they’ll not win anything for 100 years either.

So we’ll have to look outward – there are the names we’ve been linked with already like Jadson. I’m not convinced though really, a 27 year old who’s spent 7 years in Russia? He’s hardly lighting up the world stage is he, with his 4 caps? Although maybe a 27 year old is exactly what Arsenal need right now, a player who won’t impede the progress of Ramsey and Wilshere?

I don’t know what our options are, but having to replace a player like Fabregas won’t be easy. Just because you have £30m to spend, it doesn’t mean that clubs want to sell their best players. It doesn’t mean the players will even want to come to Arsenal. It’s not as easy as buying biscuits in the supermarket, unless you’re Manchester City and you just buy the supermarket.

Fingers crossed this will have a happy ending – there are still 2 weeks left until we find out the exact outcome and who will be replacing Cesc if anybody. Hold your vitriol and abuse until then.

Kieran (@kieran_delaney)

  • devday

    Am now reminiscing on Cesc playing with a dead leg – do you remember the time we played Juve at home? He ran circles over their entire team…!

  • Berth

    links to Jadson and Lucho Gonzalez are top of the list, but none appeals to the eye.

  • gareth

    Now Cesc is finally going. Thanks God. I hope we can fix another problem – Nasri. After all that, AW should have no excuses to sign two more players – One is Cahill and other midfielder. Please ask him stop saying “We are good enough to win something because we don’t” and also Stop saying “they desire more credit on last season” because they didn’t. If they did, they have already won (at least one trophy). On Newcastle game, I know AW didn’t realise his problem. Now let see what happen on Wednesday. I don’t think we can beat Udinese. Maybe we will score 2 nil and then we will lose 2 on our last 10 minutes. Or we might lose some stupid goals first, and then we draw the game. It will happen one or the others.

  • gareth

    Overall I think Arsenal, as much as Wenger are to blame for this farce of a Summer. Not only has Wenger dithered but the Board have pulled the rug on everyone by going back on earlier assurances that Fab/Nasri would not be sold. Wenger saying he did not ‘expect’ players to leave was I’m sure a dig at the Board! The Board/Gazidis have not helped by being indecisive and stingy in the market. E.g. Mata…if as good as everyone says he is…must be worth £18m or a bit more. AW however must have known that a) he needed to strengthen and b) more than likely would need a replacement for at least one out of Fab/Nasri. Fab was dishing out farewell gifts end of last season FCS! Nasri has been unequivocal about his contract stance! Like many, we felt that this Summer would be the Summer that Arsenal would in some ways strike back, instead the signs are that we are imploding. Somehow we have started the season weaker than we were at the end of the last season!! How does that work?!? Clichy, Fab, Nasri, NB, Eboue all gone or about to go. In: Gervinho (who can contribute immediately). That’s it! Chamakh seems half the player that he was and I’m worried that RvP and a few others are left shell shocked and yet again carrying too heavy a burden! It’s not an over reaction to think that RvP is already evaluating his options for next season. Mirroring the sentiments of many others…this is about as low as I have felt as an Arsenal fan. Arsenal…sort it out! It’s already cost us 2pts!

  • gareth

    What scared me the most yesterday was not the way Arsenal played, but something I haven’t seen in a while, and that was the depth on the bench. Apart from Wilshere, this was our strongest team available, and the average age on the bench was like 17. Last year we had more options, now what we have is Walcott and Chamakh, and Miyagi, Axel Foley and that Costa Rican kid in 2016. If Van Persie gets injured, the only real attacking threat we would have would be Walcott. And the scariest thing is this will be what we will have for the season, because the only player I really see coming now is Jadson, and that’s it.
    Which brings me to the next point.
    Although Rosicky was quite tidy yesterday, I think we all saw that the real Mozart left for Barcelona, and what we have here is Sallieri, technically very good, but seriously lacking in the genius department that Cesc has.
    There’s no way in hell he can replace the quality players. and I see a really rocky season ahead with untested kids like Frimpong and Jenkinson being regular reserves.
    I mean, if Project Youth fail, are we now going with Project Nursery?

  • yemi

    Nice one kieran. Nice post. My best part ? “It’s not as easy as buying biscuits in the supermarket, unless you’re Manchester City and you just buy the supermarket.”

    As i have always said, i don’t have a problem with ANY player leaving, my problem is in the replacement. If you lose a player like Cesc, you may not get the exact quality replacement, but you need someone close. Our midfield is already packed with inexperienced young players, get in a player to groom them who also will not block their development !!!

  • redondo

    You have to wonder why on earth we haven’t signed a replacement Before selling fab or nasri. We knew a month ago that keeping hold of both players, let alone one, was highly unlikely. So why on earth did we not Sort the Mata transfer out earlier? Surely the thought must have occured to someone. Surely we weren’t just banking on fab and nasri having a change of heart. That’s the question we really need answered.

    Who knows, perhaps it mat Hav even persuaded one of them to stay. It makes no sense. We didn’t need the money from fab to sign Mata, so y did we not go ahead? That way, barca cud Hav messed around for as long as they wanted and noone wud have cared.

  • Kodjo

    Good riddance to Cesc…thankfully its all over! Next in line Nasri.

    Some folks are saying that Wenger’s biggest mistake was to build the team around Cesc….like they say hindsight is vision 2020…even though there may be merit in this point of view???

    Personally i having seen the turnover of midfielders over the last 6 yrs (Hleb, Flamini,Rosicky [injury] Cesc, Nasri) i do not think Wenger will build a team around 1 player. Sure play to our strenghts but do not scarific style, tactics and formation for 1 player.

    The likes of Ox, Miyachi & Gervinho should add a different dimension to our games…though we lack experience wise…i am hoping that Ox & Miyachi will have a super season. Maybe Wilshere may play further forward with 2 tough holding midfielders in Song & Frimpong.

    I have a feeling that Wenger is looking for a super dribbler, power, pace and with final killer pass e.g Reyes/Hleb/Messicombo (lol). Certainly not the Cesc type whose game is based finding space in the last third and playing killer passes.

    The cowardice or rather biased officiatng has continued unabated.

  • gareth

    @redondo: simply because you have to wait till the players are first off the books then you can bring in others – dont forget cesc was on a high salary


    @ devday:

    devday who doesn’t? what a game, wished we could of won the CL even more now…:(

    that said we will move on. Henry, Vieria, Petit, Overmars, Bergkamp…players have left but Arsenal remains…

  • sharad

    First worries were summer of 2008 when we did not replace the departed Flamini, Gilberto and Diarra.

    But I kept the faith and thought Wenger would rebuild, and I was prepared to give him a couple of seasons to do so.

    Spurs home last season was a watershed for me.
    The inability to hold onto a lead, and the failure of our midfielders to track back, showed me something was very wrong with the club.

    I do not want Wenger out just yet as he has two weeks to spend, but if we do not buy well in the next two weeks I will want Wenger out.

  • gareth

    The ‘boy’ done good, But, could have done better.

    Fabregas came into the squad/team surrounded by the likes of TH, Bergkamp, Pires, Vieira et al….and so recieved the education of a life time which I am sure will not only serve him well with the Barcawhores, contributed greatly to enhancing his already obvious skills and talent – some might say that having been used to playing alongside such Arsenal Legends he might be forgiven for not delivering his best in the past few seasons, considering some of the players he was then expected to ‘lead’…though of course that also shows up Wenger’s inabilty to build and continually develop a team of balanced indivuals embodying both youth and experience…

    At times Cesc Fabregas has been sublime – and IMO is able to pick a pass better than any player presently playinig in the world – who can forget the goal against the s***s that not only gave us a 2 goal lead just before half -time, but destroyed their confidence totally for the remainder of the game…or his goal against Juventus that set the ball (literally) rolling to the CL Final….or how with a serious injury he put away the penalty to give us hope against his boyhood brothers the barcawhores…..

    He was given a captaincy he didn’t want and should NEVER have been given – we all know it was done as part of Wenger’s attempts to highlight his importance to the club AND (in Wenger’s eyes) make it more difficult for him to actually leave (Emotional Blackmail some might say)…

    And who can forget his all too friendly chummy chummy hugs with the barcawhores right before the biggest game of our season and the follwoing nonsensical backheel in the very same game! (some might argue his relaxed and friendly approach to that game affected his focus and concentration)…i guess we’ll never know…

    Well he’s gone now – But for a pittance – Thanks in no samll way to the very public and continual tapping up campaign (always chipping away at him) by the whole of the Barcawhore club – manager’s, president and players alike – A most concerted effort that ultimately shows the world that Barcelona (may play amazing football but) have no class, also that uefa suck Barca’s knob and did/do nothing

    A part of me says ‘Thanks and Good Luck’ – another part of me says ‘FuckYou’, I hope to see you warming the bench of the barcawhores hleb style for at least the next 18 months – when you could have been playing here for another season or even two as a “Thank-You” to the club, manager AND supporters that made you and allowed you to become the player you now are…Had you shown True Loyalty you could perhaps have become an Arsenal Legend…but THAT is reserved for Special Players and People.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    So we have no Wilshere (ankle), Diaby (everything), Rosicky (groin), Cesc (sold), Denilson (loan), Eboue (sold), Nasri ??.

    That means our midfield is Song, Ramsey, Frimpong, Eastmond, Lansbury, maybe Arshavin to play against Udinese who finished 3rd in Serie A.

    No creative players unless either Arshavin or Ramsey step up, things are not looking good people!!!

  • afc4life

    @ gareth:
    “If Project Youth failed, are we now going with Project Nursery?”

    Classic line!!

  • devday

    @ gareth:
    @ afc4life:

    I think he is!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    I forgot Nasri and RVP are suspended for tomorrow, no creativity or world class strikers then!! I hope the team can come up with a decent performance because without champions league we will find replacing Cesc very difficult.

  • kuka

    Is there anyone out there who believes or shares the view that AFC is much bigger than any single player, CESC Included? This discussion about individual players is becoming a broken record.

  • lien

    So now Wenger has the original transfer pot, plus the Clichy money, plus the first paltry instalment of Fabregas less the money he has spent on players we don’t need. Why has Wenger haggled all summer, Fabregas should have been sold 6 weeks ago and we could have got players in ready for tomorrow which is the most important game of the season. We haven’t gained anything from being stubborn. Barca told us they were buying Cesc and they told us how much they were going to pay, we haven’t got anymore money out of them so why bother. If we go out of the CL it is entirely Wenger’s fault and he should be sacked without delay, we shouldn’t even be in the qualifying round, that’s down to him as well.

  • redondo

    So we didn’t sign a replacement earlier because of a few weeks worth of wages! Wow, if thats the reason then I am astounded. Jesus, if things are that tight we could have delayed the gervinho transfer a few wk! No, still not something right there

  • Bonathan

    @ redondo- totally agree.
    @gooner get ya – yeah, this is a massive game and will have a massive bearing over who we can sign. who knows, maybe mata will still be possible.

  • Kodjo

    Regarding Cesc…together with barca thanks for bullying us into this transfer..basically ensuring that we got close to 15 million short of your true value.

    Big and hard lesson for Wenger…being brave in dismantling the invicibles and playing Cesc and Co. Must be heart wrenching after putting in 8 years of hard labour towards moulding a genuine world class player….only to leave in his prime.

    Definitely calls for a massive if not an overhaul in the recruitment policy.

    Time to start winning things and re-establishing the traditon/rebranding of the club. Otherwise thanks to the relentless negative media campaign and a few inpatient fans, arsenal might find it hard to attract world class players.

  • yemi

    what pains me most is the fact that Barca have slammed a 200m euro release clause into his contract and yet they could not buy him for 40m ???? gross !!

  • yemi


    Cesc Fabregas has promised Arsenal fans he will explain the decision to rejoin Barcelona, his boyhood club, in due course.

    The Gunners captain returned to Barca after eight years in North London on Monday, ending months of speculation over his future.

    The 24-year-old claims the Gunners enforced a strict vow of silence, and has lamented the fact he was unable to explain himself to the Arsenal faithful.

    “I have time to talk about it and I’m sure I’ll do an interview especially for them,” he said.

    “I’m sorry I couldn’t say anything in the last two and a half months, Arsenal wouldn’t allow me to talk to anyone, even if I wanted to I couldn’t.

    “I’m disappointed and upset about it because I have had a great relationship with the fans over the years. It took time to build this and I’m disappointed I could lose some of them.

    “All I have are words of gratitude. I’ll never forget what they have done for me, I gave absolutely everything to the club and I think they know that but it was the right time to come back here.

    “I’m sorry I didn’t say anything to them in the last few months but I couldn’t. I was very, very sad to leave, I spent one third of my life there, eight years, so I’m very sad but life goes on.”

  • Kodjo

    @ Yemi

    I hope we included a fat sell on clause ….having said that the past is the past…do we really want hear to hear from him??? he and barca have bullied us out of the getting money for his true value. 15 million which would sign a decent player!!!

    One thing i admire about him was his courage to stand up to Wenger in view of signings and the general trajectory of the club. Sportingwise, i believe he came to his tethers end bcos it became obvious that he couldnt win anything with the squad… which he was part of anyway.

    In certain ways his comments made in an interview with the spanish press openly criticising Wenger and the clubs policy was the nail in the coffin. He had checked out mentally, last season.