In theory the captain of any football team should fulfil the following criteria:
- He should lead by example
- He should be able to galvanise the team when playing poorly
- His communication and decision making skills should be excellent
- He should be a positive influence both on and off the pitch
- He should be able to advise up and coming youngsters in the team
Does Dejan really fill this criteria?
His leading by example is questionable, seeing as it's usually his mistakes that end up leading to the opposition scoring. If he did lead by example, we'd have conceded a lot more goals than the 42 we did ship last season! Most of Dejan's mistakes last campaign came through a lack of communication, which would suggest that his communications skills on the field aren't what they should be either.
I don't believe that Dejan is the inspirational figure on the pitch that a captain should be. When we're playing poorly, I haven't seen Stefanovic step up and take control of the situation, or do anything to spark the team into life.
Perhaps I'm being a bit unfair, considering how difficult it must be to positively influence a bad game from defence, compared to a midfielder who can make the team tick like Paul Merson did or a striker who can influence the game from the front like Sheringham did for us. On the other hand, Arjan De Zeeuw helped keep things together when we were under the cosh, something that I don't think Stefanovic is capable of, especially when he's the weak link in an otherwise very strong back four.
I wouldn't say the Serb was the ideal model professional either. True professionals should take criticism on the chin and use it to better themselves but when Tony Adams suggested that Dejan's lacklustre marking had cost us results, the captain moaned about it and claimed that he didn't even have to play because of an injury. Then there was his claim that he wasn't giving 100% effort when Perrin was manager because he didn't like him. What sort of captain does that?
I don't mean this to be a complete attack on Dejan. After all, when Redknapp was in charge he was happy to put the club ahead of his own fitness, playing despite carrying an injury. However, that decision probably hindered us more than it helped us.
But then, if Stefanovic shouldn't be captain then who should? Gary O'Neil is usually captain if Dejan is absent but after a very mediocre season last term, he wasn't exactly leading by example or galvanising the squad when playing poorly either, not to mention that he lacks experience compared to some of our older pros. What Gary does have over anyone else is that he's currently Pompey's longest serving player and therefore knows the club better than any other player, having also played under countless managers and giving complete commitment to the club.
So who else could be captain? Taylor refused to wear the armband when offered during a match last season, whilst Sol and Linvoy would probably perform better without the extra burden of captaincy on their shoulders. This only leaves one other realistic candidate; Pompey's player of the season for 2006/2007, Mr. David James.
Jamo was our most vocal player last season and communicated with the team very well when we were under the cosh. His performances often won us points we would have lost without him and when he made a mistake he took responsibility for it, shrugged it off and continued to perform to extremely high standard. If you add off-the-pitch experience at high profile clubs and on the biggest international stages could be passed on to the younger players at the club (though they should ignore any advice he gives about hairstyles!) then you have a player who is definitely captain material.
As it is, Dejan Stefanovic will be our first choice left back again this season as he wears the armband and Harry favours him. The difference is that this time, if he doesn't perform or gets injured then we have adequate back up in Hreidarsson, Traore, Pamarot, Cranie and even Distin who can play there.