Kevin Nolan’s defection to West Ham United left a burning hole in the Newcastle United squad. If you think I’m talking about his midfield slot you’d be mistaken. Nolan’s departure left the captains armband hanging lonely on a peg in the dressing room for over a month. Numerous candidates were thrown to the fore with Joey Barton, Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor the frontrunners to lead the Magpies next season.
The obvious choice was Barton after the season he had and his continuous professing his love for the club via twitter making him the ideal candidate in the eyes of the fans. Taylor was also a popular choice with the Geordie fans with the defender spending his entire career to date at the club. Even long serving goalkeeper Steve Harper was mentioned alongside midfielder Cheick Tiote although both would have proved to be the wrong choice.
In fact the armband went to one of the biggest favourites in St James’ Park and capped a massive turnaround in a career that looked doomed just two short years ago. The man affectionately known as ‘The Love of My Life’ Mr Fabricio Coloccini was chosen by Alan Pardew to sport the cherished armband next season. The Argentinian looked certain to be one of the first to scamper away from Tyneside in the wake of relegation after a disastrous first season. Signed for £10.9 million from Deportivo by the king of cowards Kevin Keegan he looked like yet another expensive flop. He was shown to be frail and incapable of dealing with Premier League forwards week after week.
But a season in the rough and tumble of the Championship was the making of him and his performances last season, manic goal celebrations and wild hair have endeared him to the Geordie faithful. It’s obvious he’s earned the captaincy on merit of performance but there is a sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t Pardew’s first choice.
Whilst I’m a big fan of Coloccini’s and believe we’d be weaker without him at the back I still think Barton was the first choice to replace Nolan as skipper. The problem with Coloccini is that his English isn’t exactly as fluent as it should be for a captain. Being a defender he’ll need to communicate from the back and make his voice heard throughout the team. With a legion of French speakers now joining the team along with the other nationalities in the squad why appoint a man who can’t speak English good enough to communicate with those who were born and bred here. He’ll have no trouble barking orders in Spanish to Jose Enrique and Jonas Gutierrez though.
Especially when the other players will be learning English to try and fit in with the manager and the majority of players who speak the native tongue. If the entire team is going to be speaking English wouldn’t it make sense to have a fluent English speaker as captain. Not only to communicate properly with the English players but to also help out the others who are learning the language and assist them in understanding any mystifying words or phrases.
I’m also not a fan of captains playing in defence. In my opinion a midfielder is the perfect position for a captain and that is why Barton was always going to be my first choice. It’s easier to communicate with the defence and forwards whilst playing in the centre of the park will give a player greater license to exert more influence on games. That’s what we got from Barton last season especially in the Arsenal game at home. He literally dragged us to that 4-4 draw having a hand in all four goals and scoring two himself. Unfortunately his contract situation and constant outbursts on twitter caused him to lose out in the race for the armband.
Don’t get me wrong Coloccini won’t be a bad captain it’s just his communication that will be a major problem. Nolan was such an influence in the dressing room and away from the field and I can’t see the Argentinian doing the same. However what he will give the team is years of experience of playing at the top level, knowing what it means to play for Newcastle United and a consistency that seems to be unwavering at the moment. The way he fought back after his calamitous first season show that he is a player people can look up too. There is no doubt, as captain, he will continue to serve the club with great dignity. I just hope his French is up to scratch!