Saturday, 30 January 2010

The captaincy

With the return to England of Kolo Touré, and the return to fitness of Patrick Vieira, we're set for a period of speculation over our captaincy. Shay Given has been standing in recently, and has done well. Well enough to keep the armband even when Touré's back, probably. But I wouldn't give it to either. We're still early enough into the Mancini era for him to make grand gestures of imposing himself on the club, and the re-allocation of the captaincy is the perfect means to do this. And there is one outstanding candidate: Nigel de Jong.

I don't think there can be much doubting that Kolo Touré has been a poor captain. He's quiet, diffident and doesn't lead by example. I don't think Mark Hughes ever really wanted him as captain. The plan was for Gareth Barry to take over from Richard Dunne in the role. He had done it for years at Aston Villa. But I think Hughes was underwhelmed by Barry's leadership qualities when he arrived. Like che is quiet on the pitch. He has also has a frustrating habit of hiding in big games. Hughes saw this - and was right to - but erred in giving the armband to Touré ahead of Given, de Jong or Craig Bellamy.

Five months on, Mancini has a chance to correct Hughes' mistake. He might well stick with Given if he does not reinstate Touré. And Given hasn't done a bad job. But I do think we have one exceptional candidate in the ranks. Nigel de Jong is consistent. He plays every game - starting every match under Mancini so far. He is a leader on the pitch: brave, vocal and determined. He tackles like a tank but still hasn't got sent off yet for City. He sets an example. He's tactically disciplined. He tends to play with all but Given and the centre-backs ahead of him on the pitch - if something is going wrong he tends to know about it. In short, like the best of captains, he plays with his heart and with his head.

I don't think that this is a blazing priority, and I don't even think that the success of our season depends upon it. But I do think that Nigel de Jong would be an excellent captain of Manchester City. Certainly better than the current incumbent.


trinder said...

Hear hear

guleed said...

Jack good to meet you on wednesday mate, shame about the result though.

Totally agree that Toure shouldn't be the captain but not so sure of Nigel either. There is one stand out player though who's shoulders never seem to drop and that is Vincent Kompany.

He has come in and done amazingly well at centre back and has easily been our best centre back so far this season bar the gaffe against bburn at home.

Think Nigel is a great player but don't think he has the influence to be a captain.

We heard countless times that Kompany was the one who stood up in the dressing room and voiced his opinions about team performance last season.

Think he would do a great job, only reservation I have is that he may not be a guaranteed starter with Lescott and Toure coming back.

As you said this isn't too pressing but definitely needs to be sorted at some point maybe at the end of the season.

CityShouter said...

It's got to be an outfield player and also someone who will play in the majority of games. I'd give it to VK but would he be guaranteed a regular place when Lescott's fit?

JPB said...

Gul - agree that VK would be a great captain. He's very loud on the pitch, leads by example from defence and seems to have a very sensible head on him. If it wasn't for Nigel I'd give it to Vinnie.

Regarding his place in the side, he's currently playing better than Lescott or Toure ever had for City. It would be very harsh if either of them got in ahead of him.

Still on for Stoke? Facebook me/Owain.

wizzballs said...

Kompany is a leader in defence, an intelligent, vocal presence.... but.... his lapses in concentration exemplify exactly what our ideal captain would stamp out.

can't see it.

NDJ is not a captain, he is an enforcer. His tendency to play deeper and deeper appears incurable, and amounts to tactical indiscipline. Making those last ditch blocks may go down well with the crowd but it is clear that the team would benefit from him challenging opponents further up-field.

Barry is low, mentally and physically. Hopefully he will get the chance to have his hernia op, and the break he called for back in December, if we snag Mariga/Gago.

Kolo looked good today. In the right defensive system he might thrive. His application is not in question, and he is a first pick.

So maybe I'd continue with Given. He is the only truly un-droppable player, popular and exemplary in his approach. Mancini presumably is using the captaincy to emphasise to him how his influence should extend far beyond making saves. Encouraging him to be involved in every aspect of the team performance seems like a smart move to me.