When you go to the pub with your mates, naturally a football debate will be on the agenda sooner rather than later. This week was no exception as the topic quickly turned to how our respective teams got on in the week. Cardiff lost 2-1 away at then bottom club Rotherham United after our usually excellent goalkeeper David Marshall was sent off before half-time for kicking out, thus also conceding a penalty.
Not shy to a moan on football matters, the topic in hand brought me a to a point I feel quite strongly about. Goalkeepers and their unsuitability for the captaincy. There are exceptions of course, Buffon and Casillas to name a couple, but these are some of the most respected and talented players in the game. No disrespect to David Marshall and other keepers, but they do not have the same pedigree as the World Cup winners.
A captain’s presence should be felt everywhere on the pitch. If Kenwyne Jones pulled out of a 50/50, I would expect the fans and the captain would politely have a word or two with him and remind him of who he is playing for. How would David Marshall do that? Would he run the length of the pitch? Obviously not. Would he relay the message via the defenders, midfielders and eventually to the striker in a sort of ‘Chinese whispers’ game? Bearing in mind that Marshall has a strong Scottish accent and Jones is from the West Indies, probably not. What would have started as ‘Get your head in the game?’ would eventually be relayed as ‘David asked if you want to get into bed and watch Fame?’. It just doesn’t work.
Likewise, if a referee makes a couple of ‘questionable’ decisions, will Marshall or any other keeper storm 50 metres to have a word with him? It would be a lot easier for one of the outfield players to do it. In my eyes, the argument that ‘keepers can see the entire game’ is wrong. When they’re attacking, the goalkeeper wouldn’t be moving around trying to organise, his eyes will be on the ball ensuring that he is in the best position himself to keep it out of his net.
‘Football Manager’ often states that changing your captain midway through a season can harm the team morale, and it may do, but it could also benefit Cardiff by an extra four or five points this season. There are several leaders within the squad t00 – Morrison, Connolly and, the best of the lot, Aron Gunnarsson, if he ever manages to play for us again.
Marshall’s recent disciplinary record just echoes the point. I don’t believe the captaincy is the reason for these blemishes, but it isn’t good enough for someone who is meant to be a leader. He was sent off on the last day of last season, so he missed the first three games of this campaign, and will now serve another suspension. He’s let the the club down twice in quick succession, something a captain cannot do. He is meant to lead by example, not kick out and make the game twice as hard for his team-mates. Is it fair on them that they have to play most of the game without their captain?
He is a terrific goalie who can win games for Cardiff, but the events of the last few months have just enhanced my view that goalkeepers should not be captain.