September 9th, 2010

Michael Ballack & Rio Ferdinand: Captain Conundrums

You want the armband, short stuff? Come n’ geddit… Michael Ballack & Philipp Lahm consider their options. Images: Reuters, AP Photo via Daylife

As aficionados of unspoken conflict and passive aggressive posturing (the unfortunate aftermath of several Kickette team building weekends and designer outlet scrambles) we are watching with interest as the unresolved captaincy situations in the German and English NT’s gently but inexorably escalate.

Prior to the World Cup you may recall that both Michael Ballack and Rio Ferdinand suffered injuries that prevented them from captaining their sides in the tournament. While they recuperated, Philipp Lahm and Steven Gerrard took on the armbands and while England didn’t exactly flourish in South Africa, their recent form in the Euro 2012 qualifiers has cemented Gerrard’s reputation as a leader on the field.

Lahm, meanwhile, is generally agreed to be exactly the kind of captain required for a young, dynamic squad going forward.

Now, with Ballack and Ferdinand returning to fitness, the question of whether the captaincies should be returned to them as a matter of course requires an answer. Both players have stated their intention to take back the arm band, and although in Ballack’s case coach Joachim Löw has confirmed the player will be captain when he plays, his favored team line up does not offer an obvious spot for Ballack to step into. Capello, meanwhile, has thrown the England situ wide open, stating that ‘the armband is not a priority for me’.

What do you think, Kickettes? Should the armbands be retained through merit or returned to their rightful owners? Does it even matter? Is it too early for drinks?

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55 Responses to “Michael Ballack & Rio Ferdinand: Captain Conundrums”

  1. pipihitam says:

    If they want to replace Ballack, put Schweini in. Not Lahm. Schweins has more charisma than pippo.

  2. aekhan says:

    gerrard is the best captain ever.he was visible througout the world cup and it is not his fault England got our early:/

  3. Sahra...* says:

    Aw come now, they've earned it! I've never seen a German side so in tune with each other since Mr Lahm took over, Ballack's a bit of a hot-head :D

    Rio on the other hand, he's sort of… dead. He bosses from the back, but Gerrard is pretty much right at the center of everything, so he can boss from everywhere :) Anyone agree?

  4. Ava says:

    I really hope Lahm gets to stay captain. The team works well with him and I think he’s earned it.

  5. aps says:

    I think they both are great captains and should retain the armband.

  6. Teena says:

    Being German, I don’t much care who captains England :P but I’m all for wee Pippo Lahm to keep the armband, and the ‘job’ (which he has done more than admirably so far) along with responsibilities (and probably perks).
    Top class player, and person, and if anyone should take the job from him it should be Schweini.
    As for Mickey Bollocks – I guess even after being semi-retired he’ll be busy enough with all the advertising gigs he still gets, not to speak of the job Leverkusen pay him for.
    Thanks for the memories, no thanks for the captain’s post.

  7. Rusty (Mrs Clemens Fritz) says:

    In my opinion, the England captaincy should go to the player who shows the most leadership both on and off the pitch. So who then?

  8. Raley says:

    Those who say Gerrard didn’t show leadership and was invisible during the WC are blind. he was one of the only ones that played consistently well throughout.

    My unbiased opinion is that Gerrard is doing extremely well as captain. You don’t have to be loud to lead your team. He gives his heart and soul every time he is out there. He deserves it.

    There was controversy about Rio getting the armband in the first place.

    It comes down to who will be playing game in and game out the most and that would/should be Stevie. He is a great leader and well respected.

    • Sam says:

      Ah so you believe the rewritten hype about Gerrard? He didn't cover himself in glory at the world cup but the press have rewritten history to make out that he did. It's lamentable. Shocking actually.

  9. Blackwood says:

    Gerrard deserves to keep the arm band, and so does Lahm.

    I don't really care all that much for Ballack as a player, but outside the field his manners have always been less than graceful (he injured Demichelis badly in a way that required facial reconstruction and he didn't even call to see how he was doing or apologize, even though they were teammates. Now, he's running around calling his fellow German players "gay", which is doubly offensive because it denotes a high dose of homophobia), I'd feel fetter for the German team if he just retired, but I doubt that's going to happen anytime soon, unfortunately. I'm just glad he missed the World Cup, to be completely honest.

    • Marlis says:

      Don't turn the things in a different way. Ballack hurts deMichelis, but it was no foul, it was an accident.

      Ballack has nothing to do with those gay-thoughts,thats only what his manager said. There are even more football players who are clients of M.Becker, but in any case Ballack's name was used in connection with him.

  10. lulu says:

    Fabio Cappello is slightly sadistic and cruel… Or is it just me?

  11. C16 says:

    Ugh, I’m in such a conflict over this situation cause I like them all and I think all of them have the merits to be captain.

  12. Six says:

    I heart Ballack. I really do. I don’t even know what this post is about, all I know is that I love me some Ballack. I have a weakness for big, hairy, German men.

  13. soccerLOV3R says:

    Michael Ballack is soo sexy <333

  14. Anya says:

    First, let them both heal completely.

    Neither Rio nor Micha are fit to play at their best yet. But when they return, they should have their roles back.

    Stevie and Philipp do a great job now, but it doesn't give them any advantage.

    That's the point of being a vice captain – you play when the captain is injured. When captain returns – you give the arm band back. Simple.

    Having said, I don't really think it matters that much who wears it.

    • Marlis says:

      In fact it doesnt make a difference, but you can’t take someone’s position away when he’s ill or injured. In normal life that would be no question: If the boss is back, he also gets his old job back.
      Look at the pic with Ballack and Lahm…. do you think any football player of an adversirail team has respect of someone like Lahm ????

  15. DJ says:

    im personally a huge gerrard fan. i think he’s an amazing player and i have immense respect for him because lets face it, there are few people as loyal as stevie g. is to liverpool. however most people here are forgetting that capello when he was deciding who should be captain, had given the armband to gerrard first and then decided against it because he felt that stevie performed better without that added pressure. for this reason alone, i would say that rio would be a better captain. Stevie’s style is more of leading by example but england’s captain also needs a bigger personality to keep others in check so that something like the ‘terry mutiny’ doesnt happen again.

    on the other hand, i would say that stevie has improved a lot during the first qualifier and the two friendlies.

  16. Dahlia says:

    I think Lahm is a sensible guy, and his side was impressive in the WC except for in the semis where I thought Spain outplayed them in every department.

    A few pointers;

    1) Ballack is old (33) Lahm is only 26.

    2) Ballack is injury prone.

    3) I don't even think Ballack has a place in the national squad since Khedira was really impressive.

    4) Ballack should call it quits and retire respectfully from his international duties.

    THIS WAS JUST AN OPINION :)

    Peace.

    • Dru says:

      Completely agreed. Though if Ballack has playing years left in him yet, I guess he should get the captain's armband back- though I think it should eventually go right back to Lahm, he did an impressive job leading Germany during the WC. And like you said, he's only 26, if young Pippo stays in form and keeps away from injuries he'll have it for a while yet.

  17. aristeia says:

    I'm way too biased to have a valid opinion. I like to see England do well, but honestly my interest in watching them diminishes heavily if there are no Liverpool players on the pitch. I want them to do well b/c I want my club players to succeed, so of course I want to see Stevie retain the armband. I think he's done a great job and deserves to keep it– but if he moved back to vice captain I don't think he should think he failed.

    In my opinion, Germany are moving forward, their youth are shining, etc. I know all too well that sometimes being loyal and rewarding a beloved captain who is not at his best at all anymore w/ continued starts can be an issue *cough*Canna*cough*. I think the the Ballack wearing the armband when he starts is a good idea. It's a weird balancing act of doing what's best for the future of the team and respecting its past.

    Italy are in a sort of similar situation without a current permanent captain. Pirlo is fantastic for the time being and I know in my heart that someday Daniele will take over as well, but there is no question that the captaincy is just waiting for Gigi to return.

  18. Jessie says:

    I’m tired of people saying Ballack should just retire. Nobody knows how Micha will fit in with this team. The team changed while he was gone, but we can’t know if he’ll work with the team until he gets back onto the team. Some people think that Micha’s physical presence would have helped against Spain, and it’s certain that Germany will face Spain or a team with a similar style at some point, so why are people so quick to just toss Micha out.

    • debsmx says:

      Totally agreed…!!!! Ballack is the captain until the coach goes otherwise…now I do think that some of the new guys in the german team are great (Muller) but they still need the experience that Micha can bring to the table…!!! so if Germay wants to keep me as a fan better keep the captain in place at least for the Euro Cup…!!!! =)

  19. jecca says:

    Ugh. I like Spain’s system, where the captain is simply the player with the most caps. Much less drama. We all love drama, but captaincy drama isn’t exactly juicy.

    • Tina says:

      Agreed. Forget the drama, just give the little strip of fabric to whoever has the most caps on the NT. Like someone else said, a leader is a leader, with or without the captain band.

  20. Nando and Stevie&#03 says:

    Keep Stevie on as captain!! He has shown that he can lead the younger players well, they respect him and what he has done on and off the pitch. Nothing against him, but returning Rio to the armband could disrupt the flow, and that would be disasterous as we are finally coming together and playing well in the 2012 Euro qualifiers.

    Please bring Ballack back though—Lahm is not an attractive figure, although he is leading some fine players!

  21. SlinkyMalinki says:

    BALLACK FOREVER!!!!

  22. littlegirl says:

    i think to be capitain is not only a question of merit as a player, but also a question of merit as a person…this is my little opinion…

  23. Lisa says:

    I think the new guys (Lahm and Gerrard) should be given a chance to show how far they can take their teams as captain. Its right after the World Cup and you’re not gonna get a better opportunity to test out things like this. Its not their fault that Ballack and Ferdinand got injured, they’ve been given an opportunity and taking it away now would just cause tension.

  24. I love love love Gerrard, but if he wasn’t the best leader England could have, then I don’t think he should be captain.

    On the other hand, I think Philipp Lahm should be the captain of Bayern Munich…Michael Ballack is getting kinda old, and besides, Philipp Lahm is toooo ccuuuutteeeee!

  25. FirstTeamCoach says:

    Rio is captain. Gerrard has was invisible during the WC, but has done well when Lampard is not playing.

    Rio – Captain
    Gerrard – Vice Captain
    Terry – needs to accept that he is not captain anymore and stop trying to hustle in on Rio/Gerrards authority.

    • Elle says:

      totally agree with everything you've said

      • Thea says:

        Well the topic is Captains and I am gonna stay on it….in light of recent events and what we now know regarding the John Terry scandal there was a lot that was just tablod conjecture and NOT actual fact. So the FA may well have acted rashly, and are now paying the price for it!

  26. kludge says:

    It's never too early for drinks!

  27. kalle says:

    I don’t know why everyone makes such a fuzz about the captain question of the Nationalmannschaft.
    All Lahm ever said was that once one has worn the badge and knows what it feels like one would not like to give it away again. An impersonal and absolutely understandable statement. From then on the media went beserk about how he attacked the Capitano Ballack and what not. Which isn’t the least bit true. But what can you do against bad journalists who live off these little “scandals”? I think it is detrimental for the football and the team especially.
    Ballack had a right to say he consideres himself the captain until Low says otherwise and Lahm says he’ll accept any decision. So, where is the conundrum?

  28. Thea says:

    Gerrard is clearly not up for the role – so he should go.

    Ballack is alas to old for the role now and too injury prone.

  29. tammyv says:

    The only Captain I care about is Carlos.. He delivered in SA like the lovechild of Pizza Hut and FedEx

  30. Deen says:

    In general I think the basic rule of decency in sports is that a player shouldn't lose a starting spot or the captaincy due to injury. If the injured player comes back and show bad form or has to be benched, THEN take the spot/captaincy from him/her.

  31. Erin says:

    Blaming the captain for a team's failures is absurd. People love a scapegoat, but it doesn't actually make sense. In truth, I don't think the arm band is really that important. Leaders will be leaders with or without the little strip of fabric.

  32. Red_Girl says:

    Gerrard all the way: you can see the younger players like and respect him, as Milner has said, and he's handled an extremely difficult period with honesty and passion for the shirt. He can hardly take the blame for SA where he was one of the better players, especially since he was shunted out to the left to make way for a frankly (excuse pun) disappointing Lampard. It would be unfair to SG to take it away now.

    As for Germany, there's something contemptible about Ballack. Plus he's too old. But to be honest, I don't really care because they're not my team.

  33. Zus says:

    Ballack is still captain! Löw decided over the issue before the euro qualifiers… And with Ozil and Khedira at Madrid in no time they would lose the starting role giving space to Micha and someone else… Hey remember Metzelder he was a good defender moved to Real and what happened? oh right no one can tell ;) that's why I guess Löw is keeping Micha, he never knows if Madrid is going to swallow, chew and spit the new german talent.

    As for Ferdinand, can he be captain just because he will probably tweet about it? you never know if some interesting pics may come out of that ;) jajajaja

  34. I think that Gerrard was one of the better players in South Africa, but even so, it isn't exactly fair to blame him for what went on this summer. It was a group failure, not Gerrard's individual failure. I don't see Rio being able to captain England for a sustained period of time (he's getting old, and injured) so it makes sense to let Stevie keep the armband. He's a captain through and through, and I really think that he deserves it.

  35. miss*football says:

    The saying goes : quit while you're ahead, isn't that so? In my opinion, it's now time for Ballack. He should step down with dignity and honour and give the chair over to the new generation – they're the ones who'll have to take Germany into the future.

  36. Gerrard has been excellent as Vice Captain in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. But he failed in his leadership in South Africa. Rio is not responsible for what happened in South Africa; he should be given a chance to show what he is capable of. Terry's days are over. His embarrassing attempt at a coup in South Africa reveals more about his character than his off the pitch (alleged) activities.

  37. Jules says:

    I loathe Ballack with a passion so I'll stay out of that one.

    I actually thought Gerrard (along with A. Cole, who may be a wanker but plays good football) was one of the bright spots of England in the WC. The goal he scored early against the USA was brilliant. I do love Rio though so my thought is anyone but Terry (and Cole, see: wanker, above)!

  38. Gerrard has proved himself in the role as England's captain through the tough times after the World Cup and he deserves to retain it for his leadership on and off the field.

    • Jo says:

      He also wore it during the bloody awful times – the actual tournament, yes? He is vice-captain and should be able to lead capably in Rio's absence. When the appointed captain returns, the armband should revert until Rio proves unfit or is unable to play. Mountain…molehill. Carry on.

    • Thea says:

      I personally Gerrard was anonymos during the WC and didn’t not give off the right vibes in terms of a willing leader. John Terry was way better -and in light of recent developments they should consider his reinstatement.

      • Honestly, of all the England players at the World Cup, I think Gerrard performed the best. Ferdinand's been out way too much with injury and I think that having Gerrard there will be more consistent for the team.