The next captainPosted: August 19, 2011
With current skipper Matt McKay seemingly all but gone, the question now is who will be the next wearer of the captains armband and follow in the footsteps of foundation captain Chad Gibson, Josh McCloughan, Craig Moore and Matt McKay? From the outside there appears to be a few contenders within the current squad for the role, with Eric Paartalu, Matt Smith, Shane Stefanutto, Massimo Murdocca and Michael Theoklitos all having worn the armband either in the absense of McKay, or in the previous couple of preseason games. So with all of that in mind, lets take a look at each of the possible options.
The vastly experienced left fullback has a host of things that lead to him being viewed as the favourite for the role, not least the fact that fellow candidate Massimo Murdocca publically endorced him as the heir aparent. The 31 year old fullback, who has 3 socceroos appearnces to his name was vice-captain last season and is one of the most vocal players on the pitch. Stefanutto definatly has the experience to the club captain moving foward, and would appear to be the front runner following his role last season. Stefanutto captained the side against Brisbane Strikers at Perry Park on Tuesday evening.
Murdocca, who now is the sole survivior of the original Brisbane Roar squad, is another who has a strong case to replace fellow original McKay. Murdocca, who has amassed 110 appearnces for the club since its inception in 2005, is another who is a strong personality within the group and will more than likely regain his starting place with fellow midfielder McKay moving on, having lost it at times last season to emerging youngster Mitch Nichols. Murdocca would be a popular choice as the next skipper from the fans perspective being the only original left, but he is perhaps a bit too quiet on the park to be the leader. Murdocca had the armband in the 2nd half against Brisbane City, before he made way midway through proceedings.
Theo is obviously a massive presense out on the park, he has a booming voice and is always giving directions to the defenders and midfielders about playing the ball out from defence and can see the play opening up as the game is played infront of him. He is also an extremely experienced professional who has been in goal for half of the champion sides in the A-Leagues short existance. Theoklitos also played under a strong leader down in Melbourne and has some European experience. Theoklitos has a small ammount of experience in the role at Brisbane Roar when McKay missed a game in newcastle, aswell as when he was away with the socceroos at the Asian Cup in January. Whether or not that is simply because vice-captain Shane Stefanutto was unavalible for selection or he was viewed as a better candidate, time will tell.
The hero from that fateful day in March is another strong candidate in my opinion, he has been a cornerstone of the side since arriving a year ago from Greenock Morton in Scotlands 2nd teir competition. Big, strong and very good on the ball, Paartalu is a presense on the field with his height aswell as the way he plays the game. From his holding midfield position he can dictate the terms and communicate easily with both defenders and attackers which is a positive compared to somebody like Theoklitos who is at times 40-50m from his teammates. Paartalu, who is only 25 but has a host of 1st team experience is a strong candidate for the job imo, and is clearly in the running for the positon as he started last weeks friendly (albeit a weakened roar side) against Brisbane City with the armband.
Smithy is probably an outsider for the role, however I believe he would do a decent job with the band around his arm. The much travelled, but also experienced centre-half is a calming presense on the ball at the back, and is a key part of the clubs philosophy of building up play from the back. In addition to that he was a mainstay of the side last season, especially at the back where injuires meant that fullbacks Ivan Franjic and Shane Stefanutto missed some time, and Luke Devere (who certainly would of been in the reckoning for the role if he was still here) moved on to South Korea.
Out of the five options listed, I dont think you could make a bad choice really. Stefanutto and Theoklitos would appear from the outside to be in with the best chance of inheriting the armband from McKay once his transfer to Rangers goes through, however Murdocca, Smith and Paartalu all are interesting cases and could do the job no problems if offered. In the end i suspect that Stefanutto will end up becoming Brisbane Roar’s 5th club captain, making him the 4th player of the 5 captains to be a defender. Theo will more than likely end up becoming the new vice-captain with Paaralu, Murdocca and Smith also forming some form of a ‘leadership group’ which is a popular concept in Australian Sport at this present time.
I should quickly add that Ivan Franjic has also held the captains armband for 15 minites against Brisbane City but that was when the team was essentially the youth side and with so many strong candidates ahead of him i cant really see him getting the job