Following his retirement from international football, Wayne Rooney has left behind a vacancy which needs filling. This is, of course, the England captaincy. Names such as Moore, Ferdinand, Gerrard and Beckham have taken on the task throughout the years. But now it is time to find our next captain to try and stamp their mark in England history. In this article I will be looking at who I think is suitable to be sporting the armband for the Three Lions.
England squads of the past were filled with leaders: John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Steven Gerrard and Sol Campbell, just to name a few, all graced the pitch at the same time, which must have left the manager at the time with a tough decision to make. Equally, at this moment in time, current manager, Gareth Southgate, must be scratching his head, struggling to pick his man, but contrary to past squads, this will be because of the lack of leaders in the squad.
Gary Cahill and Jordan Henderson are both club captain of Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, but, in my opinion, neither of those are good enough to be starting for England. There are players coming through into Cahill’s position with the likes of Keane and Stones putting him under pressure, and Henderson thinks he is the next Gerrard but ultimately, isn’t any better than Jonjo Shelvey.
All of this leads to the question, who is suitable to be our captain? I’ve personally ruled out Henderson and Cahill, but deep down I know that they will both be in Southgate’s plans and towards the top of his list for the captaincy. However I think the decision is a lot harder than what Southgate will make out. For the first time in a few good years, I cannot begin to think of one leader in this current crop of England players. Which is the exact reason why it is the perfect time to start integrating the youngsters into the side. Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, Harry Maguire and Jack Butland all deserving regular places.
There are many positives to be gained from giving these youngsters a chance, for a start, they will be able to form partnerships with younger players in the same position as themselves, which could last until they eventually retire. However, they’re not going to be able to form partnerships with other players, if they’re only going to play with them for one game, and then play with someone else in the next fixture, it’s utter stupidity. With game time now, these players will be used to the international game before they have even hit their peak, which can only be good news, right?
Out of all the senior players in the squad, there is only one player who I think would make a good captain, and that’s Joe Hart, but as I have said previously in this article, it’s time to start giving Butland the minutes he deserves.
With a severe lack of leaders and a fantastic crop of younger players coming through, I see this as the perfect time to start a transition period for the England side. Some of the more senior players, such as Tom Heaton and Gary Cahill should be making way for Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire to come into the squad, at the very least. We already have a few fantastic young players in the senior side, meaning that the transition wouldn’t be a massive overhaul. Marcus Rashford, Dele Alli and Harry Kane all still yet to hit their peak, but all have plenty of international experience.
Another reason that this is the perfect time to start this transition, is that, this current squad, is nowhere near good enough to even get past the quarter-final stage of a tournament, let alone win anything. So seriously, what do we have to lose? I obviously cannot speak for all England fans, but I for one, wouldn’t say no to us having a first eleven of kids at the next World Cup and standing no chance of winning it, just so we have a chance of winning Euro 2020 or the next World Cup. Which obviously means, the next captain would be fairly young, and why not let it be our talisman? Harry Kane. He’s already our main man, I’m not saying “give him the armband, right now” this could be two years down the line, once the transition is completed, and in fairness I don’t think he would be a bad choice for captain.
In conclusion, I don’t think it is as simple as just appointing a new captain, I believe that we need an end goal or at the very least, a clear aim or path to take, because at this moment in time, we look lost. As much as I believe in what I’ve said, it’s more likely that we will see Glen Johnson and Phil Jagielka recalled to the side rather than young talent being rewarded with minutes.