Saints Need A Leader On The Pitch !
Wednesday, 5th Sep 2018 09:01
Although some are still sceptical, over the summer a few astute signings have strengthened the squad and the confidence is coming back, but we are still lacking in one key area !
Look at virtually any position in the Saints squad and there are now at least two proven options for that position, sometimes more, Saints now have a squad with a decent balance of experience and youth and the hope is that having won our first game of the season we can now move forward and build on that.
But there is still something missing, Mark Hughes has instilled discipline into the dressing room and he is a manager rather than a coach and that was something we lacked over the last two seasons as we watched over coached sides lack positivity and discipline.
But although those traits now seems to be in place on the training ground and in the dressing room, they are not quite there on the pitch, Jose Fonte was a great Captain for Saints, at times he might not have been at his best, but he brought on Lovren,Alderweireld and Van Dijk all novices in the Premier League and always contributed with his on field organisation, with Steven Davis now sadly coming to the end of his career and his appearances this season looking to be far fewer in previous years there is no natural Captain and leader.
Being a Captain of a side is not an easy task, not being of that nature does not make you a worse player, indeed some of the World's best players over time immemorial never captained a side and some great players having done so have found that the responsibilities have weighed too heavily on their shoulders and have affected their game and have asked to be relieved of the duty.
It is not just a simple task picking your Captain either, some thing it just about choosing either your best player, your longest serving one or even the most vocal on the pitch, but it is far more than that.
A good Captain needs to have a aura about him, an ability to be motivational when things are going well and calm and collected when the chips are down, he needs to be able to keep the team going, he needs to be a regular in the side so that his team mates have respect for what he brings to the team as a player, as I said he doesn't need to the best player, but he is ideally a solid performer. I would also add that ideally they are defenders or midfielders so that they can not on lt see the path the game is taking but be able to communicate easily to every player on the pitch.
Attackers in my opinion do not make good captains as they should be constantly on the move.
That is why over the years Saints best Captain's have been the likes of Alan Ball, Jimmy Case even Peter Rodriguez.
But with the absence of Steven Davis there does not seem to be a natural leader in the team and this was shown on Saturday at Palace, when the chips came down in the last 20 minutes, there was no one calmly keeping the side going, reminding the players to do the basics, reminding them to hold their positions and keep going.
Therefore for a brief spell players who had been so good for the majority of the game were suddenly failing to clear the ball, losing their men and unable to do the simplest tasks that only minutes earlier they had been doing with ease.
If someone like Case or Ball had been on the pitch that would not have happened they would have kept the side going at vital moments, this is why last season we conceded so many late goals, tired legs mean tired brains and that is when the last 5% to get you over the line comes from, the brain, but there was no one in our side to keep the players focused and alert, the manager may rant from the dug out but during a game that is mostly what it is, just ranting and half the side can't hear him.
So I don't know who would be Davis's natural replacement from the ranks of our current squad, from the longer term members I can't see one, Ryan Bertrand would be a candidate, but I don't think it is in his nature, Yoshida would be championed by some, but he is not the cool collected type, I don't think it is in his nature either, in the centre of midfield, Romeu and Lemina don't strike me as candidates and although Pierre Emile Hojbjerg has potential he is not yet experienced enough.
James Ward Prowse could well be a good Captain but he needs to find that strength within him that has stopped him truly being an England International and that comes from an inner confidence, perhaps the most crucial element missing from his game.
I think that there is perhaps only one real option for Mark Hughes at the moment and that is perhaps Jannik Vestergaard, I haven't seen enough of him yet to be entirely sure, but the best Captains are usually central defenders and he has an aura about him which suggests he might well be the man for the job going forward.
If that does not prove to be the case, then Mark Hughes needs to look as his side and look to bring in someone who can control things for him on the pitch.
Looking back at those three Captains I mentioned from the past, all where at the tail end of their careers when they arrived at the Dell, from a playing perspective they weren't great or exciting signings, but Lawrie McMenemy brought them in not as much for their ability on the ball, but their ability off it, each one of them brought leadership to a team on the pitch that badly needed it and when they got it over achieved .
So will it be Jannik Vestergaard taking us forward with the Captains armband or is that man not yet at the club, I think that this is the key area that needs to be addressed and if Mark Hughes is to succeed at the club then he needs to be considering his options and that although a low key signing in January might provoke the usual outpourings of disbelief about a lack of ambition, as history has often shown us, sometimes the key signings aren't always the highest transfer fee by a long chalk.
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