The Captain Conundrum
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 23 August 2019 at 8:08pm
Written by : @ConorCulver
In Noble’s recent absence we have seen a few somewhat surprising choices as captain leading the team into the games against Manchester City and Brighton – but have the two stand-ins earned another chance at the armband in Noble’s absence, or should the torch should be passed on?
Let’s start with Cresswell and why he is likely to have been given the armband. His captaincy is likely due to the length of time he has been with us and there is no doubt that he has been a loyal member of the team over the past few years. But he shouldn’t be the “vice” captain for two reasons. The first is that captains should lead by example in every manner, including performance and, as has been previously discussed, he is no longer a decent Premier League left-back due to his age and drop off in athleticism. Mark Noble may have bad games but there is a real drop off in points earned when he doesn’t play compared to when he does. This feeds into the next reason Cresswell shouldn’t be the back-up captain: he doesn’t always play. How can the secondary captain be someone who has maybe a 50/50 chance of playing? This just leads to confusion in the squad about who the right man to lead the team is when the armband is hopping about the dressing room based on who is playing or not.
There are similar reservations about Ogbonna. He isn’t part of our strongest centre-back pairing, so how can he be the reserve captain? He is a better player than Cresswell at this moment in time but is still prone to the odd error leading to a goal which also hurts his case as reserve captain.
Overall, the main problem with bot is the frequency of which they will play. Certainty in changing rooms is key to a well-oiled squad and this is not present when the vice-captains are probably not part of our strongest XI.
This leads on to who should be the captain in Noble’s absence. It must be someone who plays week-in, week-out (as far as possible) and someone who sets the tone and gives 100%. Two players instantly spring to mind: Lukasz Fabianski and Declan Rice.
Fabianski has had his turn with the armband before. He is almost a certainty to play (barring injury) and having previously won Hammer of the Year, is the model of consistency in the squad. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and so is an ideal candidate to be the stand-in captain. Rice is probably a more outlandish choice but again, he is likely to be one of the first names on the team sheet and is a fantastic footballer. In the long run, he could succeed Noble for two reasons. First, he has amazing leadership skills which he is constantly trying to work on and improve which for someone of 20 years old is extremely impressive. Second, and more importantly, like Noble, he knows what it means to be West Ham. He loves the fans and the club, and we love him too, he always gives 100%, gets stuck in and goes until the very last whistle. Sound familiar?