Date: 10th September 2013 at 5:08pm
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Barney fills the void of the International Break by asking the captaincy question

Barney pops in and asks a question that didn’t seem to get much thought over summer… Who should Wanderers’ captain be? Thanks for the article, Barney. Maybe we should email it to Dougie…

In response to an appeal by ‘Danfarn`, for someone to argue the theoretical options for Bolton`s captain, I humbly offer a few ideas of my own, for you to mull over. Admittedly, I thought that this would be a quick job. Not too many applicants here to consider. Well, not now that Dawson`s gone. But there`s still a lot to think about.

First of all, it would be prudent to take a look at the sort of credentials a player would need, to enable us to choose the right man as captain.
I sometimes wonder what went through Dougie`s mind, as he wrestled with this problem, during the summer. Like him, one would need to be permanently in and around the dressing room, or out on the training ground watching and listening, to make an informed decision. Let`s face it, some people may appear to be shrinking violets indoors, but can be natural leaders out on the games field. They become different men, simply losing their inhibitions, as their natural sporting instincts come into play and their will to win takes over.

Again, everyone will probably have a different view of their ideal captain. However, there must be several basic points to consider, but forgive me, if this reads more like the criteria for a formal job application, than a simple resume of players` attributes!
Firstly for me, our man has to be a good footballer. That`s a pre-requisite. His place in the team must be sacrosanct.

Hopefully, he will be a man of stature on and off the field, and a man who sets an example by his own performances. He should command respect within the group as a whole, with an ability to protect, organise, cajole and encourage others and if need be, prevail over them in critical situations.

Essentially, the manager needs to know that his chosen leader has a cool head and can deal with each and every new situation in a match adequately. He needs a man who will give a hundred per cent in every game. A man with a big heart.

For me, a good captain doesn`t need to have played for years. He could have acquired the necessary experience and expertise in a comparatively short time. It`s his ability to do the job that counts.
Basically, he should be able to ‘read a game` well. He should be fully conversant with the manager`s over-arching ideas and help his team-mates to follow them through on the pitch. He should be able to pick up problems as and when they appear in games, and if possible take independent and appropriate action. How often do we see that happen in a match… Too rarely, I`m afraid.

I prefer a captain who is a popular choice with his team-mates (so that would rule out Roy Keane for a start!) – one, who perhaps younger players are not afraid to approach with delicate matters or problems, that they may want him to convey to the manager.
On occasions, a captain also needs to represent his club before the media, so an ability to be able to speak confidently in public would be a useful asset.

So, who have we got to fill the bill? Well, not Zat Knight, for a start!
Having said that, it`s a difficult proposition, without knowing each individual member of the squad intimately.

I have immediately ruled out giving the job to a goal-keeper, and our goal-keeper in particular. The fact that he struggles to command his own area at times, suggests to me that he is not a natural leader. Besides, I have never seen the point of giving the arm-band to a goalie. He`s too far away from play to have a positive impact. He`d need a mega-phone! No, a captain needs to be an out-field player, someone in the thick of the action.

Looking at our back four, I have immediately dismissed the options of Mears, Mills and Ream. They are not even assured of their places at the club, never mind being chosen to play each week.

For me, the stand-out candidates here, are Baptiste and Tierney. Back in the summer, both were new to the team and hardly going to be given the captaincy. However, they both have ability, with attitude to match; get stuck in when it matters and lead from the front. Although I suspect that Baptiste was captain at Blackpool at some stage, of the two men, my personal preference would be for Tierney. Don`t ask me why, but I think he may be a stronger personality; better organiser and the poorer loser.

Both Knight and Wheater have too many problems with their own games, to be given the captain`s arm-band. With hind-sight, neither of them have the right credentials to be captain. There`s no ‘edge` to them; no dominance; no great ability; spark or leadership quality. In Dougie`s defence, giving the job to Knight originally, might now seem a poor decision, but at the time he probably decided that he was the only viable option. Plus he was the sitting tenant.

However, I think there are better choices around.

The mid-field is possibly a captain`s position. This makes sense, because you are able to influence both the attack and defence and contribute to both. In our present squad, we have one or two players who could fill the bill.

Holden, for a start…hugely influential as a performer, well-liked and respected by everyone, with a good image on and off the field. Strong-minded and resolute, a fighter by nature! A bright lad by all accounts and a great ambassador for the club. Without doubt, my personal choice as captain… The only problem is, he can`t play….Yet!

Start again…

Young Spearing, player of the year and loved and respected by fans and players alike. He would be a likely candidate. Never gives up. Never knows when he`s beaten. Drives people on. Makes people play. Brings everyone into the game. A very influential footballer indeed and good in front of a camera. Plus he has quite a bit of Premier League experience with Liverpool, which would give him added kudos.

But is he a captain?…Would you give him the arm-band at the moment?

Medo for me, is an excellent footballer; tenacious and hard-working, a good passer of the ball, but unfortunately not captain material. He can`t control himself at times, never mind look after others. He needs to concentrate on his own game. He can`t be pulled in different directions by his team mates.

Pratley is similar to Medo in this respect. Yes, he`s all over the field, a human dynamo! Good in the tackle, he brings others into play and chips in with the odd crucial goal. And I`m quite willing to be proved wrong, but for me, he hasn`t got the dominant look of a captain. So, he`s a ‘no-no` as well.

Mark Davies is not in the frame either, firstly because of injury, but more pointedly, he simply isn`t captain material. He doesn`t have the ‘stand-out` qualities necessary.

If we run through the forwards quickly, we can see that no one player stands out. Neither Chungy, nor Eagles could do the job. They`re too wrapped up in their own games. In fact, I don`t think either of them would want it! And Craig Davies, Ngog and Beckford are non-starters. Many fans believe they shouldn`t even be in the team, never mind lead it!

So, if I can`t have Dawson and I can`t have Holden, I have no choice but to vote for Tierney or Spearing. And if pushed, probably go for Spearing.

So, there you are! Lots for you to chew over! What do you think?


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