Gerrard must lead England at Euro 2012 | Soccer | CBC Sports

SoccerGerrard must lead England at Euro 2012

Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012 | 09:58 AM

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Steven Gerrard is used to captaining his club and did so for England in South Africa. (Tim Hales/Associated Press) Steven Gerrard is used to captaining his club and did so for England in South Africa. (Tim Hales/Associated Press)

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They couldn't wait to swing the axe. The canvassing of board members was swift and decisive. As a result England will need a new captain to lead it into battle at Euro 2012. Capello will surely turn again to Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool veteran has been leading by example for years.
They couldn't wait to swing the axe. The canvassing of board members was swift and decisive. As a result England will need a new captain to lead it into battle at Euro 2012.
 
John Terry's removal was inevitable. The moment his trial for racially abusing an opponent was postponed until after the European Championships, his fate was sealed. The Football Association simply cannot endorse a captain who must now prepare a defence on and off the field.
 
The Chelsea defender, like anyone else, remains 'innocent until proven guilty'. Terry has firmly denied the charge and will, eventually, get his day in court. Until the legal matter is resolved Terry's position as captain of his country is completely untenable.
 
The English FA is taking no chances. According to some observers, soccer's crackdown on racial aggravation has turned into a witch hunt. Others argue 'zero tolerance' is the only way to rid the sport of an unacceptable blemish. So-called 'industrial language' occurs at every game on every level, but crosses the line when racial connotations form part of the slur.
 
Having thrown the book at Luis Suarez, the Football Association was forced to act against Terry. Innocent or otherwise, the FA could not be seen to be applying double standards. Just a whiff of racism levelled against such a high profile player, never mind a full blown court case, could not be tolerated in the corridors of power.
 
The captain of England must be more than a good player. In a soccer world where the elite participants are multi-millionaires, living lavish lifestyles, there remains a code of conduct. It is still a huge honour to captain one's country and that individual must be seen as a role model, above suspicion.
 
Terry is not that person. It is less than a year since England manager Fabio Capello reinstated him as captain following pre-World Cup allegations he had had an affair with a teammate's partner. At the time Capello commented that a "one year's punishment is enough". Apparently it was not.
 
So England lurches towards another major tournament. Barely four months before the opening game against France it has already scored another own goal. The FA's stance, taken without Capello's input, forces the Italian to find a suitable candidate worthy of wearing the armband.
 
His choices are limited in the extreme. Rio Ferdinand, Terry's original replacement as World Cup captain, has already scoffed at the idea. Hard to blame him given the way Capello dumped the Manchester United defender as soon as he had decided Terry had served his 'sentence'.
 
Wayne Rooney's stupidity rules him out of contention. Despite his importance to the team and the passion he displays, the striker will be unavailable for England's first two games. His petulance in a qualifier against Montenegro will not only cost him his place; it might have also cost him the captaincy.

Leading by example
 
Capello will surely turn again to Liverpool veteran Steven Gerrard, who has been leading by example for years. Gerrard is used to captaining his club and did so for England in South Africa. He is experienced, vocal, and passionate. Perhaps most importantly, he has the respect of his England peers.
 
Unfortunately, Gerrard is not getting any younger. He will have turned 32 by the time Euro 2012 gets underway and the Liverpool skipper has endured more than his fair share of injuries in recent seasons. Indeed he made only three England appearances during the entire qualifying campaign.
 
Gerrard's recent absenteeism at the international level may count against him. Capello has had to move on with his plans and will already have his preferred starting eleven in mind. Players like Gareth Barry and Scott Parker, for example, played significantly more midfield minutes in qualifying.
 
If Gerrard is overlooked again, Frank Lampard comes into the equation. Terry's Chelsea teammate was used sparingly in qualifying but notched 2 goals during his time on the field. Similar to Gerrard, some argue too similar, Lampard has plenty of big game experience plus a knack of making things happen for himself and others.
 
Capello needs to act quickly. England's next game, a friendly against the Netherlands, takes place at the end of the month. It is one of three warm-up games before the Three Lions depart for Ukraine. The England boss must stop the inevitable speculation in its tracks, announce his new skipper and convince a skeptical media he has chosen the right leader for the right reasons.
 
It will be tough enough for England to make an impression at the European Championships. Setting out as a unified squad led by a respected, battle hardened, captain won't do any harm.

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