With Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand seemingly close to a return to first team action, as he prepares himself to play some part in United’s trip to Everton this weekend, the question once again has been raised as to who is the rightful captain of the national side?
Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard is the current holder of the armband, having took control when Ferdinand damaged his knee prior to the world cup and despite a poor performance by the squad as a whole in South Africa, Gerrard has seemingly impressed as both a leader on the field and a public spokesman off it.
The first two competitive games since the World Cup have seen England make a bright start to their European 2012 qualification process, establishing strong victories over both Bulgaria and Switzerland. With manager Fabio Capello’s pledge to create a much more youthful national team, boasting the likes of Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott and Joe Hart, the position of Gerrard as captain has seemingly elevated the 30 year old to one of the most experienced and influential members of the side, almost helping to nurture and guide the likes of Walcott and Johnson in the early stages of their England careers.
Capello’s recent comments appear to suggest that Ferdinand will become captain for the foreseeable future upon his return: “Why do we have to change?, Rio is the captain, Gerrard is the vice-captain. Rio will be fit, we hope shortly, and he will be captain.’’
Although both Ferdinand and Gerrard can’t claim to be whiter than white given their respective histories, the question as to the best candidate for the captaincy should rest upon their conduct off the field as well as their ability to unite a dressing room, to give the best possible team performance out on the field of play.
While many will obviously say ‘Gerrard clearly didn’t do a good job since we never got past the last 16 round in the World Cup’, England’s dismal performance was based upon a number of factors which had an affect upon the teams overall performance and not solely upon the captaincy of Steven Gerrard.
However, although Capello seems to have his mind firmly set on bringing the former Leeds and West Ham defender back into the role of captain, the Italian was still full of praise for current leader Gerrard:
“He leads by example and is the best player in the England team. He is emerging as our real leader. He carried the armband through the World Cup finals and has been a real inspiration this season. For me, there is no one better for the job.”
Despite these words of support for the Liverpool playmaker, many predict Ferdinand to once again regain the armband at some point down the line, once he returns to full fitness and begins putting in the sort of performances which made Capello name him captain in the first place.
We wait in anticipation as to who will lead out England at Wembley come October 12th, when England play their next Euro 2012 qualifier against second placed Montenegro.
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