With the next set of Euro 2012 qualifiers on the horizon, the focus of the national press is yet again on an issue that was apparently put to bed well over a year ago. The drama surrounding the England captaincy debate is as boring a topic to write about as it is a pointless and counter-productive argument to enter into.
Fabio Capello need not raise this issue again. It is difficult to know at which point he decided that he could no longer resist the temptation to give former skipper John Terry his role back, but it has been said that the ongoing confusion over the position has forced the former Real Madrid boss to re-address the issue that dominated headlines through the early part of last year.
Was it the thought of giving Frank Lampard the captaincy in a competitive international for the first time the thought that left the Italian cold? Or, is current captain, Rio Ferdinand’s prolonged absence from first team football this season the main motive behind the change? Whichever reasoning is driving the apparent transformation, it is looking increasingly likely that the man punished for his extra-marital affair with the ex-girlfriend of former international team mate, Wayne Bridge, will lead his country out against Wales in ten days time.
Capello may argue that his decision is merely making best use of the available resources available to him. Without his second and third choice captains available, surely a decision to give the armband to his number one choice is justified? Regardless of that crude logic, the Italian’s inability to understand the magnitude of the issue from the perspective of the British media is astounding.
As it happens, I agree with the view voiced by former England midfielder, Ray Wilkins, that Terry should never have lost the captaincy in the first place. The award of the armband is supposed to reflect many things, but if the decision to discount one candidate for the role is on moral grounds, several other candidates, Steven Gerrard in particular, would not be anywhere near the armband either.
Terry’s indiscretion was deemed bad enough to suffer the removal of the captaincy, yet if the decision was made on the grounds that he is a poor role model, should the Italian have removed him from the side altogether?
It has often made me laugh the importance we place on the captaincy in football. Unlike many other sports where the role of the captain is key from a strategic and tactical viewpoint, the armband holds no purpose after the shaking of hands and exchanging of pennants.
I heard Alan Green on BBC radio criticise David Beckham for turning the position into an ambassadorial role during his time at the helm, but surely that is what the armband represents? And to that end, with Beckham still the main man in terms of the FA’s attempts to manipulate FIFA, is the LA Galaxy man not still the ‘captain’?
The real story behind the sorry saga is that Capello does not seem to appreciate the damage his already fragile reputation continues to take with every bizarre pronouncement he makes. No one would have battered an eye-lid if Lampard was handed the captaincy against Wales later this month, nor would they have made too much of a fuss had Terry been returned to the captaincy on a one-off basis.
It is this continual breaking of what were previously painted as ironclad, non-negotiable, rules that have undermined the England coach to the point of derision. At this rate Michael Owen and David Beckham should probably expect to be included in the Italian’s squad come Saturday night.
Have you ever worn the captain’s armband in an England friendly? You are not alone! Find me on Twitter for a full list of the 247 players to have had the honour since Darren Anderton skippered the side for 8 minutes against Mexico in 2001.