England Captaincy – Is it really such a big deal?

The front and back pages have been covered with the issue, everyone within the game is debating it, but is it really such a big an issue as the media are portraying?

The majority of the so-called ‘experts’ within the game appear to agree with the decision of stripping John Terry of the England captaincy, but this has surely become an issue blown out of all proportion.

I would have to agree with Mr Capello’s decision, the England team must come first and in the interest of harmony and togetherness necessary to mount a successful bid to be World Champions, Terry’s position was untenable.  When Fabio Capello released his statement after his brief meeting with the former England Captain at FA headquarters, he reiterated the fact that he saw no need to alter his choice for vice-captain and his 3rd choice, effectively placing the honour of being the new England Captain with Rio Ferdinand.

Despite his peers and even John Terry himself supporting this decision, the 31 year old defender’s appointment has not been met with universal appraisal. It would appear that there is a train of thought that states an England Captain must be ‘whiter than white’, with a past free of controversy. Granted, Rio Ferdinand has not got the best track record, with an impending charge of violent conduct the most recent in a long line of negative press that the defender has received, but surely these minor, to use Tiger Woods’ now infamous phrase, ‘transgressions’  should not prevent Ferdinand from leading England to glory in South Africa this summer.

Rio’s pedigree cannot be brought into question. He has led a Manchester United team, in the absence on the field of club captain Gary Neville, to Premier League titles, as well as successfully captaining them on the biggest club stage of all, the Champions League final in 2008. He is no stranger to pressure and will undoubtedly lead his country with pride and passion. However, how important is the man who wears that armband for England?

The main argument I would put across for this is by looking around the field when an England team lines up. It is full of captains, with big personalities able to lead their team on any stage. Steven Gerrard, unquestionably a fantastic club captain, having led Liverpool to European glory, Wayne Rooney is surely a future club and England captain and in any absence of John Terry, Frank Lampard as led Chelsea in an admirable fashion. Even David Beckham, who must now be a definite for the squad, has unrivalled credentials as a captain. Further to this, on the continent, in Italy for example, the captaincy is simply given to the player with the most caps for the country, removing the potential for the sort of controversy that has swept through England over the last few weeks.

Despite losing the armband, John Terry will be no less of a leader on the pitch when England step out on June 12th in Rustenburg to play the USA and neither will any of the aforementioned players above. All lead the team in their own right, whether it is through a passionate Wayne Rooney or someone quietly going about their job and leading by example, as Frank Lampard does so astutely.  Capello still has some important decisions to make, especially regarding the other England player involved in the headlines made by JT over the last 14 days, a dilemma that could be made all the more difficult if England were to lose Ashley Cole to injury. What matters now, to the team and the fans, is that everyone supports Fabio Capello’s decision making and continues to support the team, no matter who walks out first onto that pitch in South Africa. All these leaders will be out to prove that claiming the World Cup is not a Bridge too far!

Written By Robert Hunter