Good captains come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t need to scream or shout, and as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter which position they play in either.
As long as the person with the armband sets a positive example, takes responsibility, communicates, performs well, and does their bit to ensure the manager’s instructions are followed, they’re worthy of the job.
Hands up, who thinks Fabricio Coloccini provides any of that for Newcastle United?
Hmmm. Just, as I thought.
After a catalogue of run-ins, lame defeats, and shamefully blasé individual displays, I’m actually flabbergasted the Magpies still feel the defender is the right man to lead their troops into battle.
Rarely can I remember a skipper representing a team with less determination or personal pride than the veteran Argentine.
Coloccini is talented enough to produce the odd performance of note, but it looks as if he’s long since stopped caring about the team. Unfortunately, we could say the same about many of Newcastle’s players, couldn’t we?
This is why the first step towards exorcising the stench of insipidness that’s infiltrated the dressing room, would be to appoint a new skipper.
If there’s a bad attitude at the top, or a conflict with the manager, the vibes filter down and that’s what we’re seeing. The situation can’t be ignored. They need a new captain NOW.
Steve McClaren might turn around and ask, ‘who else should it be then?’ - and he’d have a point.
When Alan Shearer told Match of the Day viewers last weekend there were too many ‘9 to 5’ players in his squad, it struck a chord with me.
It’s sad to say but there are hundreds of pros out there that love being footballers, a lot more than they love the thrill of winning matches.
These lads are happy in their jobs, they enjoy playing football, and they’re thrilled to bits with having money in their pockets, spare time aplenty, and fame in the community.
But pushing themselves to the limit, living the life of a dedicated sportsman, and craving three points more than anything else on a weekend, doesn’t sit as naturally. These are the ‘9 to 5’ types Big Al was referring to.
Winning takes commitment and drive. Shearer was right to observe that not enough of their characters are prepared to show that.
The recruitment policy has to be questioned.
It’s fine ruling out over-28s and focusing on emerging talent from overseas, but where are the players that know what it takes to succeed at the highest level of English football? Gabriel Obertan (only ever a fringe player at Manchester United) has a League Cup winners’ medal. And that’s about it.
The Magpies do have players who know what it takes to win titles in Serbia, Belgium and Holland, but there’s a chronic lack of past success on these shores to call upon. Most have only ever known mediocrity, or worse, in the Premier League.
Talent-wise McClaren’s first choice XI isn’t that bad. While it’s hard to make a case for any of their shoulder slumping back four, Tiote, Colback, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Perez and Mitrovic all have something about them.
But the mentality of their team as a whole is soft, and that’s the problem. If conceding goals and losing matches doesn’t hurt enough players, results will usually go against you.
No matter what happens at St James’ Park this Sunday - and given the formbook you’d have to fancy Liverpool to dish out one heck of a hiding – Newcastle’s attitude in matches, and towards new signings, has to alter dramatically.
If McClaren isn’t allowed to toss the rotten apples aside and replace them with players who won’t accept second best so easily, he’s fighting a losing battle.
Should his men turn up half-hearted this weekend, Jurgen Klopp’s side will tear them to pieces.
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