I could be cruel and have said I bet you didn’t even know there was a Newcastle Captain but I’m pretty sure of something, many/most of you will be unaware or have forgotten that United also have two vice-captains.
Go on, name them, before you look below.
Yes, in these times of extreme strife, we look for leadership at the club.
As expected Newcastle fans have seen a complete absence of this mythical concept of ‘leadership’ from Ashley, Charnley or Carver.
Newcastle Captain Fabricio Coloccini allegedly wrote the now infamous letter to fans, with John Carver bizarrely waving around an A4 piece of paper with handwriting on, at this week’s press conference. The Newcastle Head Coach responding to overwhelming scepticism as to who wrote it, by waving that bit of paper around like a modern day Neville Chamberlain….and with about as much credibility.
So that is the Newcastle Captain’s attempt at ‘leadership’ but what about these vice-captains who must surely be playing an integral part in inspiring their teammates. Just who is it giving motivation to their teammates?
July 2014 and Alan Pardew announces….
“At Newcastle, I have great faith in Fabricio Coloccini, but we have also just last week announced two official vice-captains in Cheick Tiote and Siem De Jong, who was captain at Ajax, giving us three players from different areas of the pitch to take that bit of extra responsibility.”
Now obviously Siem de Jong has had massive problems with injuries, which could lead us to a discussion of why on earth Newcastle were buying him when he’d become so injury prone at Ajax, a risky buy which should have had warning bells going off when no other clubs showed interest and it was a comparitively small fee (£6m) for a player that United were making such grand claims about.
Back to his role as vice-captain though and as well as hardly playing this season, where have you seen any signs of him having iinfluence or showing leadership amongst the players?
As for Cheick Tiote…as well as becoming a liability on the pitch and also injury prone like de Jong, what on earth was Pardew thinking of when he made the Ivory Coast player a player of responsiblity? A great contribution and inspiration to the team…featuring on the front pages in the champagne in the car incident, inappropriate comments being videoed and put on social media, plus the tabloid tales of muliple wives as well as mistresses on the side.
The problems of lack of leadership can be traced back to the post-relegation and the senior players committee who worked with Chris Hughton to breathe new life into Newcastle.
The likes of Captain Kevin Nolan, Steve Harper, Joey Barton and Alan Smith, came together to bring unity to the dressing room and a resolve to put things right on the pitch. They may have had varying inputs in terms of number of matches played but they all played a vital part in getting the players working for each other.
The net result was the team walked the Championship and despite next to nothing being spent on the team on promotion, that team spirit helped establish Newcastle in a safe and respectable mid-table position, despite the disgraceful sacking of Chris Hughton. Results such as beating Villa 6-0, 5under1and 5-1 and winning 1-0 at the Emirates showed a team capable of pulling together, never more so than later that season when coming back from 4-0 down against Arsenal at St. James’ Park.
However, the players committee had clashed with Mike Ashley as he tried to impose a different bonus structure on the squad, which the senior players didn’t take lying down and which saw Chris Hughton supporting them.
This undoubtedly played a part in Hughton having his card marked and later it was widely reported that from that point Mike Ashley was committed to making sure all of this senior players committee would be driven out of the club.
Kevin Nolan was sold at the end of that first season back in the Premier League, Joey Barton had his contract paid up and Smith and Harper were largely sidelined until they left.
So from a very strong and vocal leadership in the dressing room, is it any coincidence that Ashley (not Pardew in my opinion) then chose Fabricio Coloccini as Newcastle Captain, surely United the only PL club to have a captain who never does TV interviews before or after matches, allowing the likes of Williamson and other often young inexperienced players such as Dummett to face the music.
Like so many decisions at Newcastle United, made for all the wrong reasons.
Fabricio Coloccini has been a good player but since that fifth place finish of 2011/12 when he was very good, I wouldn’t run out of fingers if counting his decent games in the three years since.
Not forgetting of course the disgraceful incident where he tried to force his way out of the club halfway through that near miss with relegation in 2012/13.
I also don’t think that Mike Ashley was too upset when Yohan Cabaye walked out of the door and I’m not just talking about the near £20m he banked from PSG.
Cabaye may not have been Capatin but he was having ever increasing influence in the dressing room and a rallying point for the large French element in particular.
Maybe too vocal and too big an influence for Mr Ashley’s liking, far better to have players with less character and ambition who are happy to just do as they are told and/or be grateful to be at a club which should have been beyond them.
With Newcastle having so many average/poor players and so many clueless/low confidence individuals, more than ever you need a Captain and other senior players who will take responsibility and help them to raise their spirits and their game.
So we come to West Brom today, Siem de Jong won’t be playing but as to whether he will still be trying to inspire his teammates in the dressing room is anybody’s guess.
As for Cheick Tiote, who knows where he even is?
Maybe as well, best not to mention Moussa Sissoko’s games as a stand-in Newcastle Captain…
So our three leaders in the dressing room, the Newcastle Captain and Vice-Captains: one who never speaks, one who never plays and one who never thinks.