“John Terry: it never ends for that man.” That was one England fan’s viewpoint on the latest episode in the current miniseries of the John Terry debacle that typifies the fiascos that have ghosted his career. The quote appears somewhat sympathetic to the dethroned ex-England skipper, but it is not: it’s a polite euphemism – highlighting his knack for being in the wrong place or saying/doing the wrong thing at the wrong time – which the Chelsea captain doesn’t deserve.
If he did, which I don’t think he does, deserve any co-operation and support from footballing’s governing bodies, he didn’t get it: typical of the F.A., inconsistency and inefficiency was on display again. While Luis Suarez received an eight-match ban for his racist abuse of Patrice Evra, John Terry had his case passed onto the Crown Prosecution Service: but why? How can two similar acts be treated vastly different?
Secondly, the F.A have now, unintentionally I am assured, cast a moody and delicate backlight to England’s preparation for and participation in the European Championships 2012 by removing John Terry as the captain of The Three Lions as a result of his case not being heard until after the competition. It was inevitable and necessary to remove Terry from his position, but it could have been better dealt with considering the F.A’s initial tacit support for the centre-back, with him making the squad for November’s friendlies with European and World Champions Spain, and Sweden days later in which John Terry captained the side having been an unused substitute in the 1-0 win over Spain.
If, like Rodney Hinds suggests in The Guardian, Luis Suarez’s ban had restored English football’s credibility, then the management of the John Terry case and the sub story of England’s captaincy has partly undone that, as the rest of Europe look on and yet again wonder why we place such importance on it: a sentiment echoed by Fabio Capello.
However, we do and a new captain must be instated and the decision must be carefully considered: but who stands a chance of wearing the elastic strapping round their bicep, providing a vocal presence and leading by example?
Steven Gerrard – The Obvious Choice
The Liverpool captain is a natural leader: he leads by example on the pitch and has been an ever-present in the England squad under four different managers since his debut in 2000 under Kevin Keegan, whilst in the Premier League, he captains Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool side.
Having captained England in their last major tournament, South Africa’s World Cup 2010, and leading The Three Lions out for the beginning of their qualifying campaign for this summer’s European Championship, Gerrard is the obvious choice.
However, he’s often been overlooked for senior positions within the England hierarchy: but with Rio Ferdinand ruling himself out of the captaincy, Steven Gerrard has become the obvious choice pitted against an out of favour Frank Lampard as the most experienced players in the England camp.
Ultimately, some may see the Liverpool captain as a regressive step for England as there is no guarantee that he will start this summer. Whilst, he unquestionably has the drive, commitment and direction to make a sufficient captain, it would be a temporary solution to a long term problem: at 31 and with England undergoing a transition, with numerous talented youngsters on the verge of regular starting positions, it is unlikely that the scouser will be in the 2014 World Cup team and the captaincy could be better appointed to a player that will be in the foundations of the side over the next decade. However, with Capello set to leave after the Euros, a new manager will have the ability to state a new captain anyway and no one would begrudge him so: Gerrard is the obvious choice this summer.
Joe Hart – The Choice of Potential
With Joe Hart in the side, England are unbeaten: yet, frustratingly for most England fans, the 24-year old shot stopper didn’t play in South Africa. Since then he has grasped his chance with both gloved hands, building on the three substitute appearances he had prior to the World Cup.
With his 6’5 figure filling the England goal, The Three Lions are yet to lose and he was one of only two players to feature in every game of 2011, guaranteeing himself, bar injury, the #1 jersey for Poland & Ukraine. Furthermore he is the only player to go 14 games unbeaten for England since ’96. In 9 starts in 2011, Hart conceded just six times: his goalkeeping exploits surely warrants responsibility and inspiration from the back can only channel positivity forward to the front.
In giving the captaincy to someone young, yet established, that will be in the team for years to come, yet already with experience and someone likeable and professional, yet as talented and determined on the pitch, is forward thinking; and with Gerrard, Ferdinand, Lampard and Cole all expected to be in the Euro squad, the presence and voice of experience will still be felt and heard.
He is assured a place in an England side that has few guaranteed starters nowadays and so far, the media has been kind to Hart – something England captains are rarely benefactors of. Whilst some outdated sceptics would err on the side of caution giving the captaincy to a ‘keeper, Joe Hart has the longevity needed for stability and is the choice of potential.
Wayne Rooney – The Choice of Naivety
Picking Wayne Rooney would prove: England never learns from history, at least in footballing terms; the same mistakes will be made again and that football still rates practical authority (authority through status), over theoretical authority (authority through expertise). Appointing Wayne Rooney as captain would not surprise me: appointing him as captain would be typical of England and would fail to address the problems we have had with captains since David Beckham led the nation with pride, passion and professionalism on and off the pitch.
However, as always with the English footballing fraternity of fans, a methodology of working in extremes is at play: for every fan that would deem it wise and a curb on Rooney’s behaviour if he was appointed, there is another that declares he is not even worthy of a place in the England side and should be cast aside with the other players considered dead weight – Gerrard, Lampard and Cole – by fans with clearly no appreciation of skill and talent and a lack of realisation that chemistry is built over time with consistency – something England have lacked.
The case with Rooney is that his talent is tarnished by his petulance and responsibility cannot fall into dirty hands. Yet, there is still time for Rooney to change as a player, like Joey Barton has done, and now performs his role as captain for Q.P.R. expertly.
As it stands, Rooney is our most talented striker and when he is at his best, he competes with the finest players in the world for individual talent: appointing him captain could be the unnecessary burden that could tip him over the edge on a more frequent basis than he is already inclined to do. It could, however, curtail his petulance. The ban has already effectively ruled him out of candidacy: however, Rooney remains the choice of naivety.