The recent departure of our captain Matt Mills accompanied by the questionable future of Jay Spearing has raised the issue of the Bolton Wanderers captaincy and who will lead us into the Neil Lennon era.
So who should it be and why?
Firstly, I share the opinion of many that perhaps we will have a very different line up come the start of next season so any sort of estimation will be premature (a word of terrifying meaning in any context). Despite this well-reasoned point not to, I am now required to post a column every week so I am going to look into the matter in as much depth as I can get away with.
For arguments sake we will assume the threadbare remnants of the Bolton squad will head into next season bolstered by the inclusions of various loan players to add metaphorical meat to the bone. As I pick apart the cases for individual players, let us look into the well debated matter of what position a captain should hold.
Let us start with the stopper, the number one, the first name on the team sheet, the goalkeeper. This is arguably the most divisive position as often it is argued despite the ever-present nature of the goalkeeper, their proximity from the 'battle' often means they are in fact never-present from major incidents. Goalkeepers are commanding in their very nature and are leaders of the defensive area.
Andy Lonergan's departure and the increasing likelihood that Adam Bogdan has played his final game for Bolton means it is very unlikely a goalkeeper will named captain at Bolton next year so let us swiftly move swiftly on to the defenders.
Footballing history is littered with successful defender captains, Moore, Beckenbaur, Lucio, John Terry and Philip Lahm are just a few examples of the commanding defender-type captain. You could, at a (long, long) stretch suggest our departing skipper Matt Mills is in this mould and was mildly successful in the role. He certainly took control of the side but my mind casts back to a harsh bollocking of young Tom Walker in a home game that seemed a little out of place in the modern game.
As for current defenders it is difficult to assess who will remain at the club next year although I would anticipate that Dorian Dervite and Tim Ream will be at the club next year. Dervite was captain when at Charlton Athletic so he must be an influential player within a group as he hasn't struck me as a natural leader on the pitch.
Dervite has so far been pre-occupied with fighting for his starting place so I would be surprised if he was promoted.
A defender that may well find himself at the Macron Stadium next year is former Crystal Palace captain Paddy McCarthy who seems to bring a real sense of calm to the Bolton defence when introduced in the latter stages of the season. McCarthy was always in the ear of those around him and settled in very quickly, would take a lot to happen but certainly an outsiders bet.
Tim Ream has been a permanent fixture in the Wanderers squad for the the past 2 seasons at left-back and has won praise from the majority of Wanderers fans for his apparent consistency. Ream appears to be a popular player amongst the whole club and is frequently present at fan-based events. My issue with the idea of Ream as captain is that I don't see strength in him, I think the reason for his improved performances at LB are largely due to the reduction in pressure as mistakes are less likely to be fatal.
I could discuss Ream all day but let's move on to the midfield.
Midfield provides for me the outstanding candidate for captain IF Bolton can manage to keep him in Darren Pratley.
Currently locked in contract talks, Pratley emerged as the fire in the Wanderers engine room under the revival before Christmas. Pratley's work rate and team-focused play set the benchmark for others to follow and it really pulled Bolton forward. Pratley was sorely missed with the injury suffered.
Returning former captain Jay Spearing looks destined to leave the Macron as his distributions simply does not hit the standards required of Neil Lennon and friend of the site Neil Danns could be possibly the worst candidate for captain we could put forward so we will leave that there.
Another midfielder I will throw into the ring is young Josh Vela. Vela has really made the most of the chance given to him by Lennon at right-back and in my eyes made that position his own. A local boy with the fans on side, Vela would be popular choice with the fans. For me, Vela needs to continue his development without the worry of how others around him are performing, perhaps in time though.
On to the strikers. Shit, we haven't got any yet.
Let us be hypothetical then, I would be confident that our cult hero Eidur Gudjohnson will be a Bolton Wanderers player.
As for a role model and experience, no one comes close to Eidur and his case is only strengthened by his hero status in the Macron Stands, I don't think anyone would complain if he took the armband. Like aging classic motor, Eidur's weakness comes in his reliability, he simply cannot be expected to feature in a high percentage of fixtures and on this basis alone, I would be almost rule this option out completely.
As for Emile, we would just get too much stick to even consider that one.
There we go, there are my thoughts on the matter but pay this no mind whatsoever, it is just some semi-drunk Friday ramblings and we will probably sign someone and make them captain anyway...