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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.

Photo: Action Images

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A_Saint_in_Stoke added 10:17 - Sep 5
It has been glaringly obvious that we desperately in need of a leader/captain on and off the pitch. When Jannik Vestergaard signed for us - he did indicate that he was very much up for being the leader/ captain, as he enjoyed that role as the Denmark U21 captain. But being a level-headed sensible guy didn't wish to come bullying his way into that position - and wanted to slowly integrate into the team - and have the respect of his elders.
As there is no other outstanding nominees - I feel that

A_Saint_in_Stoke added 10:22 - Sep 5
I now feel that Mark Hughes should offer this position to Jannik Vestergaard ( even on a temporary basis ) as I suggested in my post a couple of weeks ago.

Chesham_Saint added 10:54 - Sep 5
Alan Ball and Jimmy Case not great or exciting players? I disagree - they were both very talented in their own right.

SaintNick added 11:02 - Sep 5
I didnt say they werent great or exciting players, i said they were not great or exciting signings in that both were in their 30's Alan Ball was 31 in those days an age when most were retiring, few went beyond that and Case was about to turn 31.

They were past their best, but brought a lot more than just their playing ability to the club, case staying 6 years and Ball pretty much the same with the odd little break in between.

Even back then signing someone of that age did not excite the fans, now if we signed a 31 year old there would be uproar on social media

bstokesaint added 12:26 - Sep 5
I think that there is more to it than you’ve mentioned Nick. I think the captain has to have a genuine love for the club and respect for the fans. Sadly this is something that has been lacking from some captains in the past. Lallana, Fonte and VVD have shown nothing but contempt for the fans. I personally would make Yoshida captain. Is or has he not been captain of the Japanese national side? I respect Bertrand as a player, but he certainly doesn’t give me the vibe of a player who lifts the team.

Hugh_Jarce added 13:12 - Sep 5
PEH demonstrated leadership qualities on Saturday and more so than Vestergaard. But either would be better than RB who is a great player but too subdued to be an effective captain

highfield49 added 15:09 - Sep 5
There are no obvious candidates at present, firstly because it has to be a player who is an automatic choice on the team sheet and secondly a figure who demands or commands respect from the rest of the team. In my view the only immediately viable option is to continue with Bertrand but for Hughes to sit him down and give him a clear understanding of what the role demands. If Bertrand decides he's not up to the job then Hughes chooses the player who best meets the criteria and that, as you say, might just be Vestergaard.

wibbersda added 15:50 - Sep 5
If we change the Captain now then Bertrand will go further of the boil. If it were to happen then Ings would be the obvious choice for me.

fubsy added 17:35 - Sep 5
I think my preferences from the players we have are:
1. Ryan Bertrand - he will grow into the captaincy, I hope.
2. Cedric - he has the fire in his belly
3. Pierre - has the potential
4. Yosh would also be a good choice - that would relegate Hoedt I think
5. Danny Ings might be a good choice when he signs permanently.

DPeps added 18:33 - Sep 5
Hughes doesn't seem to know his best team, so picking a captain is difficult. Bertrand is captain by default really because he is one of the few players who's pretty much sure to start, if fit. In time I think it'll be Vestergaard

Ali_Diarea added 18:57 - Sep 5
I’d give the armband to McCarthy. He’s the only player guaranteed to start, on merit, and it might give him the added confidence to marshal the defence. I like a captain that leads by example and for me he is the only player that does that consistently and is a guaranteed starter.

I would prefer it to be an outfield player though...

SaintBrock added 19:23 - Sep 5
Leadership is dressed in many different cloaks. A loud mouthed nagging bully boy is not what leadership is about

ItchenNorth added 20:17 - Sep 5
Bertrand has stepped his game and attitude up this season. I see no reason to change the captaincy whilst he is leading by example.

SaintNick added 21:29 - Sep 5
You are right Bertrand has upped his game, but that doesnt make him captaincy material, we need a cool calm head in the centre of the pitch either defence or midfield, to not just lead by example but by rallying the troops when they need it

Ali_Diarea added 21:53 - Sep 5
I think it’s too soon for Vestergaard, he’s still finding his feet in the PL. Lemina has surely ruled himself out with the driving offence, Hojbjerg was needlessly sent off and Hoedt needs to worry about his own game before he can rally the troops. No obvious contenders in the centre of he park.

LoisDeem added 13:00 - Sep 6
Back in the day, we provided umpteen England captains, with seventeen on the pitch at once, and even Lawrie Mac wouldn't have been able to tell you who was in charge.
So, this captaincy business is all bunk, with leaders coming to the fore naturally with a successful period, which is our optimistic destiny right now. All of those mentioned will be rightfully staking a claim, just so long as they're not whining and finger pointing, I see this lot gelling, as long as we don't lose sight of the goal!

EasyTiger added 13:26 - Sep 6
We are not the only team that have struggled with leadership on the pitch, many have had this problem for years (the national team being one..). Maybe it says more about the modern team environment or modern players not responding to this on pitch leadership..? Talking to a Villa supporting friend of mine, whilst JT cost them a fortune in an ultimately unsuccessful Prem push, it was noticeable to the faithful that he galvanised the defence/midfield in times of pressure. That's what we need.... not JT (for heaven's sake..) - but someone who can step up and control things when backs are against the wall. Fingers crossed Vestegaard or Hojberg or someone else can do this.... and MH recognises this is needed and develops someone to play this role.

underweststand added 11:10 - Sep 10
Our current squad (second youngest in the Prem.) has a decided lack of the kind of experienced player (Ball, Case) you mentioned in the article. Ryan Bertrand comes closest but IMO is too much of a " Mister NIce Guy" to bellow and cajole teammates who don't pull their weight. Losing the likes of Fonte and (soon) Davis leaves a major gap in our "experienced players" category most likely to fill the void.

At one time I thought to (eventually) see JWP as future captain material, (former England U23 captain and all that) but at present even he can't get regular game time.

I am reminded that in times of need, a "leader often emerges" but only time will tell so at present even that is an unresolved situation.


KilkennySaint added 18:49 - Sep 17
I’d give the armband to Højbjerg

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