Wenger: Arsenal lack true leader

But Frenchman insists that absence of an Adams or Vieira is not a factor in club's six-year trophy drought

Arsene Wenger has conceded for the first time he has "no obvious leader" at Arsenal but insists the lack of a vocal, talismanic figure will not prevent his latest team from winning trophies.

The Frenchman, who was speaking at a management conference in Paris, suggested the English place too much importance on the role of a captain and argued that the responsibility of leading a team can be shared by several players just as effectively. He also expressed frustration at the regular criticism he receives for failing to sign a true leader, blaming "cultural differences" for a perceived lack of understanding of his methods.

Many have cited an absence of leadership as the primary factor behind the north London club's failure to secure silverware over the last five seasons, and recent events have only added more credence to the theory.

Wenger's talented side looked rudderless at times while going out of three cup competitions in quick succession. Club captain Cesc Fabregas appeared in just one of those defeats, the 3-1 loss in Barcelona, with Robin van Persie wearing the armband in the Carling Cup final against Birmingham and again at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

Injuries and rotation have led to Manuel Almunia, Tomas Rosicky, Sébastien Squillaci and Samir Nasri all captaining Arsenal this term. When asked why he changes his skipper so frequently, Wenger, who learnt yesterday that he will be without Abou Diaby for Arsenal's game against West Bromwich today because of a groin injury, admitted his squad is not flushed with natural leaders.

"Sometimes you have to choose by default," he explained. "When nobody stands out as an obvious leader you have to find a group of players who can take on the leadership together. I try hard to make my players understand that the most important thing is the way each one of them behaves on the pitch. It doesn't matter who is wearing the armband."

Wenger's assertion that too much air time is given to the captaincy debate on these shores arrives at the end of a week that has been filled with discussion surrounding John Terry's anticipated return as England captain.

In Wenger's homeland, the identity of the national team captain makes far fewer headlines. "There is a big cultural difference," Wenger added. "For the English, sport is a combat. The English can't imagine going into battle without a general. For the French, football is a form of collective expression."

Upon his arrival in England, Wenger inherited a tremendous captain in Tony Adams, whose fierce determination inspired the Gunners to domestic Doubles in 1998 and 2002. His successor, Patrick Vieira, was also a strong leader. Arsenal, however, have won nothing since Vieira left in 2005.

Questions are now being asked about the suitability of Wenger's latest choice. Fabregas is certainly very different to Adams, but Wenger remains convinced that the presence of a bossy motivator is not a prerequisite for success.

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
Voices
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans
voices
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and artistic director Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic party to honour Spacey
theatreStar's successor at Old Vic theatre admits he's 'allergic to hype'
Life and Style
life + healthVirginia Ironside's dilemma, during Depression Awareness Week
Arts and Entertainment
The median income for professional writers is just £10,432, less than the minimum wage
booksSurvey reveals authors' earnings
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders