Following on from this was the inevitable media hype about who should be the next England captain. However, a comment made by BBC pundit, Mark Lawrenson, to the effect of ‘does it really matter?’ with regards to Terry’s successor, raised the question of whether or not the role of captaincy in the modern game is as important as it was say twenty years ago.
There is the old saying in football you need more than one leader in a team, and of course this is true to an extent, however, surely a team needs a leader or a focal point, a player that exemplifies their team or their club?
I’m going to refer again to Chelsea captain John Terry, a player who is Chelsea through and through and has come up through the youth system to become captain of the club, an England international and when at his best is arguably one of the best central defenders in the world.
Despite his undoubted talent as a player and his performances on the pitch that make him the talisman of his team, his actions and behaviour in recent times are the antithesis of his ability on the pitch.
His ‘alleged’ off the field actions involving his former club and international colleague Wayne Bridge started the ball rolling. As a result of this surely some of his international colleagues and team mates, some of whom would be good friends with Wayne Bridge would have lost respect in Terry and would not want him as captain?
Then more recently there was the ‘race row’ involving QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, younger brother of Terry’s international team mate, Rio Ferdinand, with John Terry ‘allegedly’ making a racist comment to the QPR defender during a game between Chelsea and QPR.
This caused outrage for many followers of English football and the media, and many called for Terry to be stripped of the captaincy, rightly so in my opinion.
For me, somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to captaincy and leadership, that is not the behaviour you expect of an experienced captain, and he cannot lead his country while the case is ongoing.
Tying in with the theme of ‘leadership’, the manager or head coach of a team or club surely should come under the ‘umbrella’ of setting an example for his players and condemning unacceptable behaviour.
Apparently this was not the case for Fabio Capello who wanted Terry to remain as his captain despite the ‘race row’, and it was the FA who stepped in to strip Terry of the captaincy, which is what led to Capello’s resignation.
If the manager doesn’t step in when one of his players does something unacceptable and brushes it under the carpet, what example does this set for his players and kids watching the game?
This is my argument, that morals and standards have evaporated over the decades and that captaincy has been diluted and is no longer as important as it used to be.
If we look at the Premier League this season there are examples from both the top and the bottom of the league of captains that have behaved in a manner that I would not expect a captain to do so.
If we take already relegated Wolves’ Roger Johnson, captain for much of the season, he has been guilty of off the field misdemeanours including turning up to training in an unfit state to train due to a heavy nights drinking the night before, all the more surprising as his team was in a relegation battle, and there was also his confrontation with team mate Wayne Hennesey during a game.
Again, not the behaviour or actions expected of a captain. This lack of leadership or example could be attributed to Wolves’ poor season. So may be leadership is important after all in football?
Mick McCarthy in my opinion managed his team by example and condemned mistakes made by his players, however, poor results led to his sacking, when maybe his charisma and leadership may have led to his team’s revival later on in the season.
However, having a captain that is no stranger to controversy hasn’t hindered Chelsea’s progression in getting to the Champions League and FA Cup finals’ - which is typified by John Terry’s stupid challenge against Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League semi final at the Nou Camp.
I didn’t intend to use this article for the purpose of ‘Terry-bashing’, however, John Terry is the prime example of how captaincy seems no longer to involve standards of behaviour, and that results are given preference to setting an example to others.
Bobby Moore was held in high regard by his peers, by all accounts a gentleman and a fantastic leader, the likes of Harry Redknapp and Sir Bobby Charlton have said so in the past.
Captaining England to World Cup success in 1966, Bobby Moore is seen as the blue print for the complete captain and leader of a team both on and off the field.
Of course captains make mistakes, however, these days this is becoming more frequent and managers and supposed leaders of teams or clubs are not held accountable for their actions.
A new culture, or an old one perhaps, needs to be created to revive the necessity for captains to set an example both on and off the field, and with the recent appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager, hopefully it will begin soon.