On Wednesday, the England national team take on Holland in their first game since the management fiasco that saw captain John Terry stripped of his armband and erstwhile manager Fabio Capello take a resignation walk down Wembley way.
Professional Manager has already looked at the pros and cons of potential management candidates, but what about the other vacant post/poisoned chalice at Three Lions HQ? Here’s a look at the form sheet and the available leadership styles:
Although he is often mildly invisible in England appearances, he has a pedigree at Liverpool of turning up and leading from the front in big games. Just look at the 2005 Champions league final.
Fans and pundits always talk about the importance of pride and passion in their England players, and there’s no doubt that Wazza has both in spades. He also, unfortunately, has bucketloads of passion’s evil twin: anger. If you want to give the armband to the hardest working player on the team, he’s your man. If you want to give it to a level-headed example setter, you’d better look elsewhere.
Probably the best man for the job, but he recently ruled himself out on Twitter, saying: “I don’t want to be England captain after the last episode”. Ferdinand was ousted from the captaincy by Capello and replaced with Terry, but had no warning that he was being replaced prior to the official announcement.
He’s been quietly putting in good performances and is already a leader at Manchester City. After finally solving the England Goalie Conundrum, the cool-headed 24 year-old could also be a good long-term solution to the captaincy issue. But having a goalkeeper – a specialist position in a sport of generalists – as captain would bring its own problems.
In a recent poll of Guardian readers on the subject of England captain candidates, Parker came second to Gerrard. Popular with the other players, level-headed and in form, Parker has the attributes traditionally associated with good leadership. But can you really see dressing room stars such as Rooney and Terry taking orders from a player of Parker’s stature?
It would be nice for this problem to be solved quickly, easily and for the long term. But don’t hold your breath. Expect to see Gerrard awarded the armband in a “caretaker” role for Wednesday, and probably awarded it full time in the end. Gerrard is 31 now – so exactly how long “long-term” will be is anyone’s guess.
News just in, it looks like we backed the wrong horse and we will find out whether Scott Parker can indeed give effectively direction to the senior players for the game against the Netherlands.
Management ups and downs
Rallying his team from a two-goal deficit to thrash their North London neighbours Tottenham 5-2 needs to be recognised as a great accomplishment. But one performance does not a season make. More of the same is needed by the Professorial One if he is going to convince Arsenal fans – and his employers – that he’s still relevant.
The Eastern Conference’s coach in this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game slipped this weekend, entrusting LeBron James with the task of finishing a game off. James – probably the best player currently in the league – had a great overall game, scoring 36 points, but came up short when trusted with a shot to win the game. The so-called “King” James comes up short in crunch situations time and time again – and Thibodeau should have had the wherewithal to look elsewhere for a closer.