As the season approaches Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson is faced with a decision as to who will be his captain.
Jacob Burns is still officially the man with the armband, for the third season running, but based on Ferguson’s preferred line up in pre-season one would expect Burns to be starting on the bench or possibly not making the squad.
Ferguson has opted for Adam Hughes and Liam Miller in the central midfield roles and both have combined well together and impressed. Hughes has the discipline to stay in the deeper role, while Miller is the link between defence and attack that the Perth Glory has lacked in recent years.
The logical choice would be the man that Ferguson turned to last season when Burns was injured or suspended, young Western Australian, and fan favourite, defender Scott Neville.
However, despite being the club’s most consistent player last season Neville too appears to be out of favour now that the club has assembled a much stronger and balanced squad. His favoured right back position going to another local boy-come-good in Josh Risdon. Risdon impressed last season when given a start, but, as most coaches know young players have to be nursed through these formative years. Many can hold their own for a large part of the season, but there will be a time when their form may dip and the coach needs to read those signs early. At that point he will no doubt be pleased to have a player like Neville in the wings.
So who should be given the captain’s armband in season 2011/12?
The left back position is another that is likely to change regularly as it appears the team’s Achilles heel. Left midfield again could witness a frequent change in personnel, so to choose one of these players would be foolish.
Travis Dodd captained Adelaide United, but one always felt that it was a role that restricted him performing to his full potential. Dodd is a potential match winner with the ability to do magical things, the captaincy seemed to curtail him doing the extraordinary, and therefore it would be good to see him shackle-free doing what he does best, terrorizing defenders.
Shane Smeltz and Billy Mehmet look like being the preferred partnership up front; Smeltz could be a contender it is too early to tell about Mehmet.
At the back, the central defence looks like being a combination of Josh Mitchell, Chris Coyne or Bas van den Brink. The latter two players are coming to the ends of their careers and one has to question whether they will be able to maintain fitness throughout the season, although both could undoubtedly fill the role. If Scott Neville were to step into the central role, which many believe is a position he is better suited to, he again he would be an option having already captained the side, but it appears unlikely that he will be given either role this season.
The favourite however has to be new recruit Danny Vukovic. The goalkeeper has an ideal position in which to see the game unfold, and from which to encourage and shout instructions. Vukovic has matured immensely in the last few years and has shown a professionalism since his arrival in Perth that cannot be questioned. He is respected by his fellow players and at the present time is the most likely to always have his name on the team sheet.
Some will say it matters little who wears the armband, but if Perth Glory are to be successful this year they need a strong leader on the park; a leader who is respected by fans, coaching staff, players and administrators alike. Danny Vukovic looks the ideal man to fit the bill.