I have never seen anything like what happened with Granit Xhaka before. For me, he can’t be the Arsenal captain any longer. It’s impossible. What he did was unacceptable. What he did on the pitch is one thing, I’ve made it clear that I don’t know what he adds to the team. But what Xhaka did as he left the pitch is totally different. You can’t do that – it’s like betrayal in England.
I played with guys like Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira – real leaders, big captains – and they showed the personality and character of what it means to be Arsenal captain, whatever happened on the pitch.
Adams and Vieira always respected the fans – I don’t think Xhaka understands what it means to be a supporter in England. He doesn’t know the love those people have for the club and the players, they always support you. I appreciate my time in England because of that. I have witnessed fans booing players before, of course, but not like this. The anger was something else. It’s clear, they don’t want Xhaka to play for Arsenal any more.
XHAKA MUST REALISE HIS MISTAKE
It’s very difficult for the Arsenal fans to forgive Xhaka. They don’t want him to play for their club any more. To pass over what happened would be really difficult for Unai Emery – is he going to have the guts to keep Xhaka as captain? I’m not sure.
But, more importantly, are the club going to do something about what happened? I think they have to, as a message to the fans and the players.
Whatever happens on the pitch, the fans have the right to boo and show they are unhappy, the same way they have the right to applaud when you score and win games. It’s normal. This is an absolute basic for life as a football player – it’s the same in the street, even if someone comes up to you and says you’re shit, you have to keep your nerve.
I know it’s difficult, especially with the pressure Xhaka has been under for the last few weeks. He’s been criticised by the fans and the media – by me, too, as a player, rather than as a person – but this is what it means to be captain of a big club. Now, Xhaka has to be very solid in his mind. He needs to realise that what happened on Sunday was a mistake. I’m pretty sure he’s going to come up with an excuse, though.
For now, I’ll be very surprised if he’s on the team-sheet for the Liverpool game.
If I were to talk to Xhaka, I would say: ‘You are doing the most exciting job in the world, and you have to make sacrifices. You must understand that, when you play for a big club like Arsenal, and are captain on top of that, you must be an example on and off the pitch. ‘
‘Right now, you’re not. So lay down. Don’t answer any questions that might be a problem – just shut your mouth, work, and try to get back the fans’ and players’ confidence. This is the toughest game you will have to play since becoming a player.’
SINCE EMERY ARRIVED I NO LONGER ENJOY WATCHING ARSENAL
Emery didn’t help him at all, in honestly. He knows Xhaka has been getting criticised for weeks, so what message does it send substituting this player, his captain, after an hour? If you remember, the same thing happened against Sheffield United, again when they needed to chase the win. Clearly, doing that two league games in a row tells the world that you don’t think your captain is at the right level to play.
Either he’s lying to us, or he’s lying in the dressing room to his team and Xhaka. But his actions tell me that Emery doesn’t have the confidence in Xhaka. I hear some fans are calling for Emery to leave. After Arsene Wenger’s spell, they were saying the same thing.
Do you know what makes me sad? It’s not the fact that Arsenal are struggling to be back in the Champions League, or fighting for the title, that’s been the case for a few years. It’s that, what I feel now, is that when I look at Arsenal, I don’t see the DNA of the club any more. I don’t see the style of play from back in the day, the way we played for 20 years. There’s no fluid passing, no movements, no one or two touch, I don’t see that style at all.
It’s like they killed the heritage of Arsenal when Wenger left.
Since Emery arrived I don’t get pleasure from watching Arsenal any more. Some times, it’s even boring. The Sheffield United game was such an ugly match. Then, against Palace, Arsenal were brilliant for ten minutes, then their opponents score, and suddenly we see all the weaknesses of this team mentally.
Come on. This is Arsenal. You should play football. Every time we have the ball, the opponent should be scared, but they aren’t any more – they love playing against us. It’s very frustrating to see in the space of two years, but I don’t see the Arsenal style.