Does anybody actually care who captains England?

March 22, 2011

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Last week, when Chelsea held a news conference to preview their Champions League match against FC Copenhagen, manager Carlo Ancelotti spent the first 20 minutes fielding questions about John Terry’s re-instatement as England captain.

The Chelsea press officer finally stepped in in an attempt to steer the subject back to club football by asking if there were any questions about the forthcoming match or for fellow guest, defender Branislav Ivanovic.

“Yes,” came the first reply. “Branislav, what do you think of John Terry as a captain?”

The feeding frenzy continued through the weekend and into England’s preparations for Saturday’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales. Rio Ferdinand was “understood” to be furious. “Sources” said he had considered retiring from international football. Capello was widely attacked, ironically, for releasing the news through the media and then for not acting quickly enough to “clarify” the situation when that self-same media cut loose on the matter.

Finally, on Tuesday, Terry was wheeled out by England to face the press.

The defender duly said all the right things. He was “very delighted” of course and yes, Rio had been in contact to say congratulations, proving “what a great man” he was.

Terry decided that the players saying nothing when Capello asked them if they had any questions on the issue was proof that they were all behind him, though he did admit that he was probably “not everybody’s cup of tea”.

Any overseas viewer could be forgiven for wondering what on earth was going on. In the vast majority of countries the identity of the captain is almost an irrelevance. In Italy they run a finger down the appearances list and toss the armband to the player with the most grey hairs so it is hardly a surprise that Capello failed to understand the ferocity of interest from the British media.

But surely those newspapers are not representative of the average fan? Does anyone really care who is England captain other than those involved in marketing the team?

In cricket, of course, captaincy is vital and in rugby the skipper makes most of the important decisions. In soccer the “honoured” man exchanges a pendant before kickoff, calls “tails”, claps his hands and says “come on” a few times and then plays his own game along with everyone else.

Terry didn’t suddenly stop shouting, encouraging and organising England’s defence when his partner was supposedly in charge and he won’t be doing anything different when he dons the armband again on Saturday.

The whole thing has been a storm in a tea cup, cooked up and left to stew into an unpalatable brew by the good old media.

Do you care who the England captain is? Or in your country, is the captaincy such a big issue? Discuss over at the Reuters Soccer facebook page.

PHOTO: England captain John Terry attends a media conference at the team hotel in Watford, north of London, March 22, 2011. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh

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yes, Europeans put hardly any importance at all on the captain. The armband is flung around from person to person based on appearances. In Italy if the player with the most caps is on the bench and comes on, the captain has to give him the armband. But if he forgets no one cares

Posted by mark-meadows | Report as abusive