Aston Villa Captain Options for Steven Gerrard
With Aston Villa getting the core of their transfer business done early, the main thrust of the preseason has been to prepare the team and bed in the new acquisitions to Steven Gerrard’s system.
This had been done relatively successfully, until you consider the first half of the recent draw against Manchester United, which left the Villa boss questioning his perceived first XI.
Time is on Gerrard’s side though, but one unanswered question still remains though. Who will Steven Gerrard choose as Aston Villa captain?
Let’s have a look at the existing captain and the contenders.
Tyrone Mings – Villa’s Current Captain
Being the current incumbent, Mings should be the favourite to retain the position, mainly because he hasn’t done anything wrong in his tenure as captain.
No public faux pas, no scandal on the pitch, and an impressive record when picked for his country.
During the behind-closed-doors Premier League games of the lockdown period, you could constantly hear Mings organising and encouraging his teammates. And truth be told, there’s not that many vocal presences amongst this current Villa squad.
You can look at his occasional lapse in concentration, but generally and more importantly statistically speaking, Aston Villa has been a more successful team with Mings on the pitch.
Let’s not forget that when Jack Grealish was captain, many among the fanbase, commented online that Mings was the ‘real’ captain of the side.
So why is his position up for grabs?
He’s not the most popular player with some sections of the fanbase, because he’s not afraid to speak his mind in a public setting. In 2022, this makes you a target.
Of course, when coupled with an error on the pitch, Mings’ mistakes seem to carry more weight and with the arrival of Diego Carlos, there is a genuine option to replace him in position, if not captaincy.
With Gerrard coming in last season, Mings has looked like a Captain under a probation period. Perhaps he will be retained to end the speculation.
Contender No.1 – John McGinn
If you could pick a captain on personality and determination alone, McGinn would be hard to look past. That’s why he is vice-captain and presumably the number one contender to replace Mings.
Unfortunately, John McGinn, is part of Aston Villa’s biggest problem, the midfield. This is a midfield, that most, including the manager, agree needs strengthening.
Despite moments of genuine world-class ability, there are too many times McGinn isn’t alert defensively or displays basic errors in passing.
If he had the consistency in his game to match his tenacity, then Villa would be in Europe already. If McGinn has a good game, Villa has a good game, and that can’t continue over a season.
If you aren’t guaranteed a place in the starting line-up or are actively being discussed as one of the pieces needing to be upgraded, then you shouldn’t be captain. If Gerrard makes John McGinn the captain, then by default, he should be in the starting 11.
If this happens, then Steven Gerrard feels McGinn doesn’t need upgrading, and if it goes wrong, it will be a decision looked back on.
Contender No.2 – Emi Martinez
Of player’s that are potential captain material (Coutinho isn’t), Emi Martinez is the most recognised world class player.
A simple train of thought says because Martinez is recently Villa’s most consistent and successful player at both world and club level, then he should be a choice for captain.
I can see the logic, there have been great goalkeeping captains in the past. Oliver Kahn, Peter Schmeichel, Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon, have all been great captains of great teams.
While Villa have decent players, they aren’t a great team at the minute. They are good and have the potential to be more. That’s why an outfield captain might be a better fit.
All the other successful goalkeeping captains have been in a team full of leaders, this is why it’s common at international level.
Martinez, may be the best choice for captain on ability, and standing in the game, but is he the best choice for Villa?
If Argentina comes calling, will he possibly risk suspension at club level to play for his country again, as he did when travelling to a Covid Red Zone? Or miss the last game of the season to be ready to play in the Finalissima?
Surely, a captain should be club over country?
The Missing Link?
Sometimes the most unlikely players make great captains. They aren’t always the all-action Steven Gerrard type or the verbal Roy Keane’s.
Kevin Richardson, Andy Townsend and Gareth Barry spring to mind as the captains, you didn’t need to think about.
Not headline grabbers, but consistent performers.
Funnily enough, they all played in the midfield position that Villa are sorely lacking a disciplined force in. The cool head in amongst the chaos. The leader that can raise everyone else’s game without losing focus on his own.
It could be that until Villa solve the position of midfield leadership, then team leadership will always be a debate.
Let’s see who Steven Gerrard goes with, or if he needs to buy him in…