Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe weight of the armband - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The weight of the armband - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The weight of the armband

Never has the England captain’s armband weighed so much.

Ultimately, it was the armband that recognises a player as the leader of the team that cost England a manager so close to a major international tournament.

Untimely? Yes. Disappointing? Yes. Costly? Time will tell.

I think the F.A were happy to see Capello go. I believe they feel they shot themselves in the foot by extending his contract prior to the world cup, fearing Inter Milan were about to swoop for their prized possession. After such a disappointing World cup they were only going to sack him as a last resort though. Him walking away was perfect for them.

Any manager should have full control of first team affairs. The F.A were wrong to strip Terry of the armband. It’s decisions like that that capello got his 6 million pounds a year for, they should have let him make it. After all, he was the England Manager. The F.A might as well name England’s first eleven against France.

Any manager coming in will have to accept Terry will not captain. The managers’ first port of call would be to select an England captain – unless the F.A have already done that before the appointment is made. Which judging by recent events doesn’t sound as aberrant as it may sound.

But does Terry really need an armband to be considered a leader of the team? They way he plays – no he doesn’t. If we look at the 1990 world cup squad we see names like Butcher, Walker, Pearce, Robson, Wright, Shilton, all leaders in their own right. If we look at the current England squad we have Gerrard and Ferdinand who fit this mould but neither has taken the bull by the horns. If we look at the Spanish national team their current captain is goalkeeper, Iker Casillas. However they have leaders like Puyol, Xavi and Pique as well as the Superlative Andrés Iniesta who may not be a natural leader but he does inspire players around him.

So does the armband of a national team really mean that much out on the pitch? Will Terry, if selected, play differently if he is not the Captain? Does it stop players like Gerrard and Ferdinand from playing to their best unless they have an armband on their sleeve? And what is the captain’s role exactly on the pitch, apart from calling the toss of a coin at the start of the game? Penalty takers, free kick takers and corner kick takers are selected before matches so the captain does not need to make these decisions, unlike in cricket where the captain does make such on the spot decisions.

So who are the front runners for the job? Gerrard will be 32 before the Euro’s. Ferdinand is 33 but has already ruled himself out of the running. So if Gerrard is selected he will already be on borrowed time. Who comes after that? Do we have a natural leader, ready to step up?  Giving it to Rooney should not even be an option. Scott Parker will be 32 in October and is not even a guaranteed starter. Ashley Cole will be 32 in December and comes with a susceptible character. Frank Lampard is 33 and is finding it difficult to get himself into the Chelsea team on a regular basis. Ledley King is a injury crisis ready to happen. So where does the next long-term captain come from? We do not have a player ready to take on the captaincy and who can lead the team for the next 3 or four years. I am sure Phil Jones will, at some point be considered ready, but not yet.

If we look at the current top six sides, only Chelsea and Spurs have an English captain. The men? John Terry and Ledley King. Right now all the talk is of the next England manager but once that appointment is made the England captaincy will be the next focal point. Will one of the questions that the F.A ask during any interviews for the England job be – who are you thinking of making the England captain? And how far will the answer go in determining the candidates job prospects?

They say that the England captaincy is the greatest honour that an English footballer can strive for. Bobby Moore is a name that is mentioned every time as the perfect model England captain. But is it realistic to expect the same level of professionalism in today’s day and age? Where mobile phone cameras’ and social networking sites exist? Have football players become easy targets? Let’s be honest. Football feeds off controversy. A two footed tackle, a twitter message, a referee’s mistake, a dive, a court case. It all gives something for the papers to print, radio phone ins to talk about and the sports news channels to report. But the game has changed. A perfectly legal tackle back in the 70’s is now considered a scandal. So what chance do we have of finding a player with no baggage? No controversy? Ryan Giggs was considered a model professional but is far from that. Are the most professional players the ones that don’t get exposed?

Whatever happens, the England manager’s position and the vacant England captaincy role both need to be filled. These two decisions need to be made for the good of English football and need to be made without haste. The England Football team needs to start again, fresh. New manager, new captain. But who?

Kam Gill

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