With Ange Postecolgou’s time at Tottenham beginning there is a sense of freshness and a new dawn – on the pitch at least. Current club captain, Hugo Lloris is set for pastures new and so an heir to the armband needs to be found.
The obvious choice, if he stays, will be Harry Kane. However, there are certain misgivings about a player who is possibly not completely committed to the club being awarded the captaincy.
Obviously, if Harry turns around and signs a new contract or at least does an interview saying he wants to give it one last go at Tottenham, then this article is irrelevant, for the present at least. But, based on his deafening silence, the aforementioned events seem some way away.
So, if Lloris and Kane are no longer options, who throws their hat in the ring? There are some potential candidates, but I am going to make the case for Cristian ‘Cuti’ Romero.
As I type this, I can already sense the head-shaking and eye-rolling of the readers – but hear me out.
As I wrote previously, this is a new era and one of the biggest gripes that lots of fans, myself included, have with the club is their inability to shift players. Romero has only been at the club for two years, and is not associated with some of the failures of the past.
He also has experience of winning and being in successful teams. Internationally he has a World Cup and a Copa America to his name (where he was named in the team of the tournament) (Wikipedia).
Undoubtedly, he has some strong captaincy credentials – he is a passionate and combative player, to say he is strong in the tackle is an understatement. Also, when he is focused, he has an excellent football brain and can execute excellent passes out from the back, sometimes under extreme pressure. Importantly, he will be a mainstay in the starting eleven, barring injury or suspension.
Yet the nay-sayers, in unison, will still point to some of the negative qualities that were mentioned previously. Rash, reckless, liability and plain stupid. Let us not lie., we have all used words or phrases like this to describe his performances and actions on the pitch since he made the move to North London, and, I may add, quite rightly so.
However, a quick scroll through a list of winning Premier League winning captains provides names such as: Vieira (8 red cards), Keane (7 red cards), Terry and Vidic (6 red cards). We’ll pop Stevie G on this list as well for good measure with six reds as well (Statista).
The point is that being occasionally reckless and borderline violent seems to be a winning quality in some of the most heralded captains. Let us not forget another on the list once karate kicked a fan.
However, one thing that Romero would have to improve undoubtedly, would be his consistency and concentration. All those names listed before could get away with the odd roguish act because they were brilliant performers almost all of the time. Currently, Romero’s form is erratic at best and there have only been hints at his ability to be a consistent performer.
Many genuinely feel that Romero has the skill level to reach those heights and making him captain, and giving him extra responsibility might be the thing to bring the wildness and unpredictability under control.
Towards the end of the 2021/22 season, we all remember how he managed to avoid a yellow card, which would have given him a two-match ban. He can do it.
But why could he do it then and not all the time? In that moment, to use the phrase, the team were pulling together and there was a positivity about the group. Hopefully, under Ange, the manager will create those conditions on a more permanent basis and allow the players to flourish and feel more secure.
Under Conte, Romero said in an interview during the pre-season tour, “The group were somewhat separate from the staff… when things are divided and not everyone is pulling in the same direction — coaches, players, not pulling in the same direction — it becomes very difficult.”
With everyone singing from the same hymn sheet, the conditions might be right for Romero to step forward as a young leader – especially under the more relatable and humble Ange Postecoglou.
What was quite telling is that he did not shy away from his own part in Tottenham’s struggles last season, stating that he was “the first to take responsibility for the poor season we had.” (The Athletic). Such awareness is the trait of a leader.
Other accusations from fans have been levelled at him regarding his commitment to the club. In the aforementioned interview, Romero strongly refuted questions about his commitment; going on to reveal that he has rejected the overtures of other clubs to stay at Tottenham.
In reality, he is on a long-term contract and there is no way the board would countenance the sale of the only member of the defence that a lot of fans have some faith in. Yet we must take him at his word.
Despite the frustration he has caused, the general consensus of the fans is that Romero is a very good player, who could become ‘World Class’.
Most supporters understand football and know when a player is capable of performing at a different level. It is why certain players are afforded more leniency and are not as judged so quickly. There is already a bond between Romero and the fans and this could really cement it.
Arguably there are other candidates for the role. One name that is doing the rounds amongst the fan base is that of Son Heung-Min. Undoubtedly, his commitment to the club is beyond doubt. He signed a new deal when Nuno joined (spotrac) and immediately shot down any talk linking him to a move to Saudi (Talk Sport).
It seems that he is also the heart of the team and loved by all. Yet just being Son brings untold pressure. He has almost God-like status in South Korea and it looked as though he was slightly struggling with the burden of expectation during the World Cup.
Similarly, you could tell that his form domestically got to him last season. You could tell from his demeanour and interviews that he was struggling to cope. Next season, I just want Sonny to be Sonny and just focus on smiling, laughing and banging in goals for fun.
Other candidates for the next Spurs captain
The other ‘natural’ candidates would be the likes of Davies, Dier and Hojbjerg. However, firstly, none of these three would be a guaranteed starter and secondly, there would be mass meltdown amongst the fan base, if not a full-scale riot.
Other options would be the likes of Yves Bissouma or even James Maddison, but I think for them it would be imperative to focus on establishing themselves as a consistent performer at a ‘big club’ before adding any other extra pressure.
This is definitely a ‘left field’ choice, but I believe there is some merit to the proposition. Indeed, now I have finished writing the article I have almost convinced myself.
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