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.