This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Ben Davies was given the captain’s armband for Tottenham Hotspur’s clash with Everton at the weekend.
That’s the Ben Davies who had made three Premier League appearances prior to the game, with two of those adding up to 16 minutes of action.
Of course, one can argue that Mauricio Pochettino’s hands were tied. Hugo Lloris is injured and ruled out until 2020 while Harry Kane suffered from a virus that ruled him out of the game at Goodison Park.
Nevertheless, Davies’ pick shines a rather unfortunate light on the depth at the club and the lack of alternative leaders.
Paulo Gazzaniga has only just come into the team; Serge Aurier would have been a disgrace of a selection due to his spate of Spurs calamities; Davinson Sanchez is perhaps too young while Toby Alderweireld’s contract expires in the summer and handing him the armband could have been seen as a message of acquiescence; Tanguy Ndombele is a new signing; Moussa Sissoko is excellent but perhaps too erratic; Christian Eriksen hasn’t been at the races this term with just one goal and one assist to his name in the Premier League.
That leaves Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura. Son is the captain of South Korea and even wore the armband as his country beat Germany in the 2018 World Cup. He has worn that armband on 16 occasions, most recently in the 0-0 draw with bitter rivals North Korea.
Alli is an excellent player and has a mature head on his shoulders so he could well have worn the armband; so too could Lucas, who is 27 and has won multiple trophies throughout a storied career.
To pick Davies, though, is almost a dereliction of Pochettino’s duty. The armband is symbolic, of course, and this is not to say that a different selection could have changed the result as Spurs again dropped points on the road. They haven’t won away from home since January.
But picking Davies, a player who has never once captained either Spurs or Wales, ahead of someone like Son, a leader, a player who is also a game-changer, corrodes the meaning of the captaincy by suggesting anyone within the squad can wear the armband.
That could be seen as a meritocratic message but really, Pochettino has given the responsibility to a player who was woefully unequipped for it and it is little surprise that, as soon as Son was sent off after that horrendous injury to Andre Gomes, Spurs wilted.
Per WhoScored, Davies had 60 touches of the ball, had a pass success rate of just 50%, failed to win a tackle and was dispossessed on three occasions.
Spurs simply didn’t have a leader on the pitch; least of all Davies.