Does the captaincy really matter in football?
The hullabaloo surrounding the England cricket skipper has shown how different the role is in the two sports.
I think Gary Neville is actually the club captain at United, but to be honest I’m not sure. He has been injured for most of the last two years so Ryan Giggs took over.
The Welshman is in and out of the team, though, so Rio Ferdinand has donned the armband the most recently. (The pair lifted the Champions League trophy in May, see right, with poor Gary left on the sidelines).
Let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter who the captain is on the football field. Technical areas are so large now that coaches can bark the orders and leave centre backs, traditionally the obvious skippers, to the defending.
In Spain, clubs often have several club captains and in Italy it generally goes to the most-experienced player.
Paolo Maldini, 40, is club captain at AC Milan but plays once every three games. If the captain was that important, wouldn’t they appoint one who played every game?
At Euro 2008 after Fabio Cannavaro was ruled out through injury, the Italy captaincy switched between Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon depending on whether Del Piero was picked or not. In this case, the situation made Italy’s bungling performances worse and is perhaps an instance where one clear skipper was needed.
In cricket, the captain is all-important given he decides field placings, bowling changes, declarations etc.
As we have seen with Kevin Pietersen’s demise, the way a captain conducts himself off the field with management is equally important.
Maybe football has learnt from this too. A club captain can be the bridge between the team and the coach but that doesn’t mean he has to be on the field.
PHOTO: Manchester United players Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Ryan Giggs and Tomasz Kuszczak celebrate with the Champions League trophy after defeating Chelsea in the final at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh