Captaincy – Why It Matters

Right – over the last couple of weeks the question of how important it is for a football team to pick the right captain has been raised. It’s become an issue as a result of the farcical handling of the England captaincy by Fabio Capello.

A year ago, he’d decided John Terry was unfit to captain his country, instead preferring to give the arm band to somebody who couldn’t even play half of his clubs games in a season. In his time in charge of England, the Italian has named seven different captains.

Predictably, this has caused a stir in the media, which has in turn created another stir amongst people who don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Well, here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth…

I think it is important for any team to select the right capain. My reasons are perhaps slightly idealistic but I’d also suggest they aren’t without merit. And forget England for a moment, because they aren’t my concern, I make no claims to be an England fan and so there’ll be no attack on their set-up or Capello’s management here, these things concern me not.

What do I, as a paying fan, want from the captain of my team then? I want to see a captain lead by example. I’m not bothered whether the captain is somebody who barks orders at his team mates and berates them whenever they misplace a pass or miss a tackle.

When I watch City I want to see a captain who plays with genuine passion, somebody who looks like they care about the club. I think the most important thing to me in a captain is that, no matter how much they earn, they can understand what it feels like to be the fan in the stands. They play like they love the game and like they have pride in the shirt they wear. Essentially, I want them to channel my passion. There are more than 40,000 City fans at each Premier League match, each of whom would give an arm (probably) to be on the pitch wearing the City shirt. If you’re wearing the armband of my club, I expect you to understand and show it in the way you play. I expect this to come across in interviews and I don’t expect you to bring the club/team into disrepute.

Let’s take as an example, and without wishing to mention the specifics (I don’t want to slander the man), John Terry. Here is a man who has been involved in several alleged high profile indiscretions. He is not somebody who I would want to captain a team I supported. A good defender and leader on the pitch yes, I’ll acknowledge that, but would he represent my club in a way I want it to be represented? Not in a million years. On that basis then, I would probably disagree with the decision to re-instate him as England captain.

Is all of that too idealistic? Yes, of course it is. But it is also why I feel a bit of extra pride when I see a player like Carlos Tevez, Vincent Kompany or Pablo Zabaleta wear the armband for City. Whether they care about me as a fan or not, they at least have the decency to pretend they do.

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Stick or Twist – Mancini or Mourinho

Jose Mourinho may leave Real Madrid at the end of the season. Then again he may not, but the press reckon he will so that seems enough to start some speculation about which English team he’ll be managing next season.

To be fair, it isn’t groundless speculation. It looks like Barcelona are going to retain their Spanish crown and the top men at Los Blancos have a notoriously itchy collective trigger finger. If Mourinho can’t topple the Catalan giansts domestically and fails to deliver the Champions League title they so desperately crave it isn’t unthinkable that he’ll get the bullet. Then again, Jose himself is hardly renowned for sticking around – his relationship with Real Madrid has never looked like one that would last more than a couple of seasons anyway, so a premature end would hardly be a shock.

Naturally, in all the speculation about where Jose might go next should he vacate the Madrid hot-seat, City’s name has crept up more than once. The issue here should not be whether or not we would welcome Mourinho at all. He is a proven winner, he hasn’t lost a home league game at home for nine years and he’s a trophy magnet. So, in principal, I’d love him at City. I’m very much a fan.

The issue though should be this – what need is there to dispense of the services of Roberto Mancini? We’ve just made it to the semi-final of The FA Cup for the first time since 1981 and we’re still looking good for fourth place.

Let’s imagine City finish fourth and win The FA Cup, then Mourinho gets the axe and declares an interest in managing City. What should the decision makers at Eastlands do? Do they¬† keep Mancini, who would’ve met the minumum league target and ended our trophyless era, or should they be more ruthless and make a move for “The Special One”? As the cliche goes, there is no room for sentiment in football.

I don’t have an answer here. My heart very much tells me that you “stick” with Mancini, but I am aware that a lot of City fans would disagree. I don’t think The Blues have ever fully taken the Italian to their hearts.

Normally I would argue that short-termism hasn’t done us any good for us for the last three decades, why not finally aim for some stability. Here’s the thing though – never before has the “twist” option been to tempt the worlds’ greatest¬† manager to the club.

Like I say, I don’t have an answer. I’m just rambling, almost aimlessly, truth be told. I don’t know what I think, but as a supporter it is a point worth considering as it is not difficult to imagine it is a point being considered by City’s top brass.

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Reading Preview

It’s not been a great few days for City, has it? Thursday’s result in Ukraine leaves us with a rather large mountain to climb in terms of Europa League progression. The performance wasn’t good enough and we lost to a side that turned up and outplayed us on the night.

Whilst it’s not impossible that we’ll turn the tie around at home, it is perhaps more sensible for the fans to be focussing their trophy dreams elsewhere. With any lingering hope of winning the league long since gone, that leaves us with just one more winnable trophy – The FA Cup. And what a chance we now have to seal a place in the semi-final of that competition.

On Sunday City entertain Championship side Reading in the quarter-final, with The Blues looking to reach their first FA Cup semi-final since 1981. There was an obvious sense of relief amongst City supporters when we knew we’d be facing the stripey Southerners and not Everton in the quarter-final. I, like many, initially fell into the trap of thinking it was as close to a guarenteed trip to Wembley as you could get. But the closer we get to the game, the more nervous I feel. Not because I don’t think we’ll win, but because in my life I’ve grown depressingly accustomed to watching City shoot themselves in the foot. It’s hard to move away from that gut feeling that things will go wrong. The confidence I felt when the tie was finalised has been replaced by a slightly uneasy feeling, the nagging thought at the back of mind being, “We can’t mess this one up, can we?”.

Well, we’d be wise to take Reading seriously. We’re only playing them because they caused an upset in an away game against a Premier League side in the last round. They did it last season too – they are no strangers to winning as underdogs.

I won’t claim to be an expert on The Royals but what I will expect is that they will come to us with no fear. And why shouldn’t they? All the pressure is on City. We could talk about tiredness and injury problems but truth is we shouldn’t be needing any excuses tomorrow.

My hopes are pinned on a couple of first-half goals to settle any nerves. I’m also hoping for a good attendance and a proper big-match atmosphere. Put the disappointment of Thursday behind us and let’s get behind the players – we might just be on the cusp of finally ending the trophyless era.

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Welcome To My New Blog

Hello all,

Right, so you may (or may not) remember I used to have a blog at this address – http://withoutadream.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2010-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z&updated-max=2011-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z&max-results=2

The observant amongst you will notice that that hasn’t been updated for a while. I won’t bore you too much with the reasons, but blogging for www.lifesapitch.co.uk and writing for the t’rific King of the Kippax has taken up some of the time I used to devote to my own blog.

I intend to blog more often from this shiny new place I’ve set up with WordPress. Hopefully I’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly!

If you want to be updated whenever I write a new blog then you should be able to subscribe to this by clicking a button somewhere on the right hand side. You can also follow me on Twitter where I will post my own blog, as well as “re-tweeting” other excellent blogs from City fans.

That’s all for now, keep your eye out for some future blogs then!

CTID

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