Chelsea’s centre back John Terry was named David Beckham’s successor as England captain yesterday, but the Guardian’s Rob Smyth would’ve preferred another name. A very nice last name, in fact.
There is nothing wrong with the choice of John Terry as captain per se: he does the job wonderfully at Chelsea, is a born leader who will kick the catwalk culture out of the England dressing room and whose elevation completes the jigsaw marked ‘the new Tony Adams’. But Steven Gerrard (above) would have been a more imaginative, braver choice, and it is tempting to conclude that McClaren has missed an enormous opportunity to get Gerrard playing for England as he does for Liverpool.
As captains they are much of a muchness, although Terry is more visibly vocal and has the advantage of being able to see the game’s bigger picture from centre-half. But as players, the influence of the captaincy differs hugely. Terry’s performance-level, for the most part, remains constant whether he is captain or not, although like Gerrard he has never quite been at his best for England. Gerrard’s, by contrast, fluctuates wildly for club and country, between the anonymous and the unstoppably in-your-face. When he reaches his volcanic peak, taking personal responsibility for the fortunes of his team, he has the capacity to influence a game like no other player in the world, as his one-man shows in the Champions League final of 2005 and the FA Cup final of 2006 showed.
While it is an oversimplification to draw an exact link between captaincy and Gerrard’s performances, it would be similarly unwise to dismiss the connection. In the movie Spiderman, Peter Parker was told that “with great power comes great responsibility”. For Gerrard the reverse is true: with great responsibility comes an inner power that, at times, no defence in the world can resist. The captain’s armband will not make the object any more immovable, but it could have made the force even more irresistible.
(Shabazz “Don’t Call Me Betty” Baidoo, modeling last season’s shirt, prior to the CarGiant logo being applied to the middle)
Amidst all the hoopla surrounding Captain Red Ass’ zipper problems, I neglected to mention QPR earning a point from their home opener Tuesday night, a 2-2 draw with Leeds, salvaged by Shabazz Baidoo’s injury time equalizer. Central defender Zesh Rehman, most recently of Fulham, signed a 3 year deal with the ‘R’s earlier this week, and striker Dexter Blackston (formerly of Southampton) is expected to make his Hoops debut Saturday against Southend United.