Back in July, we asked our staff who they thought should wear the captain's armband in 2016/17. Only 9% of our readers said Sol Bamba, and that left 91% wrong for the month of August. Sol Bamba wore the captain's armband and was endorsed by Garry Monk as the captain before the season began.
Garry Monk: "Sol Bamba was club captain last year and I see no reason to change it. But I am working with a group of 'leaders'" #lufc— Lee Sobot (@LeeSobotYEP) August 4, 2016
August 4 to September 1. What a difference a month makes.
Bamba likely lost his place in the squad through poor performance on the pitch, but you could see when he was out there that he wasn't happy, nor was he fitting well with Monk's Swansea-loanee Kyle Bartley. The writing was on the wall when he didn't make the 18 at Nottingham Forest, and when Leeds couldn't find a transfer destination for him, the two sides mutually decided to part ways.
And that leaves us facing the captaincy question yet again. Different opinions bounced around the Through It All Together water cooler and break room this week, so we decided to turn this into a roundtable and let you see what we were thinking. Who should wear the armband on Saturday? Who's the LUFC captain moving forward? Let's discuss.
Sitting around the roundtable this week: Anthony Linley, James Mahoney, and Matt Robinson from Yorkshire, Jack Dudley from Cambridgeshire, Sean Ryan from Ireland, Ben Mallis from Australia, Joshua Gilbert from Lima, Ohio, and Johnny Wakefield from Charlotte, North Carolina in the States.
All of us are "all Leeds," and all of us try to answer the question we present every Wednesday to the best of our ability. It's not a quiz show, but it should give you insight into us as fans and writers alike.
And at the end, in the comments, don't forget to let us know how you'd answer the question of the week.
The Weekly Wednesday Roundtable... begins now.
Who will be wearing the captain's armband for Leeds United on Saturday?
Ben Mallis: My first choice would be Liam Cooper. The 25 year old has arguably been United’s best performing player over the past 18 months and I would love to see a young leader step into the position. Cooper has stood in for Bamba over the past few weeks and should be the choice if he is playing on Saturday.
But this could prove problematic.
Given our defensive issues, I have doubts Monk will feel comfortable guaranteeing Cooper’s place in the starting XI, let alone making him skipper. If we assume Monk acquired Pontus Jannson with the intent of playing him right away, there is much pressure on Cooper to hold his place in the side. Burdening him with the armband might be too much.
If Cooper is off the board because of questions regarding his game time, the only other option for me is to find someone who will regularly be in the team. The captain of your football club needs to be playing week in and week out.
Which means Charlie Taylor is the obvious answer – the Englishman looks like a guaranteed regular in Monk’s line-up. Giving the armband to a talented youngster is never a bad idea in my eyes. And you never know, such responsibility could provide the impetus for Taylor to re-sign with the club.
Jack Dudley: When we were asked this question before the season began, the length of time it took me to answer was alarming. I ended up landing on Sol Bamba, only because I didn't see anyone else that could really have stepped up to take on the role - and I don't think Garry Monk did either. Bamba was captain when he arrived, so why change it?
Now that Mr. Liability has departed the club, someone needs to stick their neck out there and get a grip of this team. We're lacking leadership and someone who at least appears to take control. As much I'd like to stick to my guns and select a traditional captain in a centre-half, I don't think Bartley has been at the club long enough. Nor, really, is it ideal to have a loan player as your skipper.
The options are still limited, really. Still no obvious choice. Charlie Taylor would get the nod if it wasn't for the recent debacle, but I think I'm going to have to go for Liam Bridcutt. Perhaps the more common choice, but who else can it be? Your captain needs to play every week, not be on the bench. That's why I've overlooked Liam Cooper. He isn't in the team enough to warrant the captaincy. Bridcutt will bring an element of robustness to the side, especially defensively. Once he settles back in I think he's got to be the one chosen. Don't let me down, Bridders.
Sean Ryan: Sol Bamba has left Leeds United. Thanks be to the gods. The man was a useless sack of pure and utter crap. But his departure leaves a hole that needs to be filled. We need a new club captain and there's only one option that I'm considering. The fans. The only ones who actually give a damn about the club are the fans. But that is unfortunately never going to happen so we have to go back to the realms of reality.
There is only one man for me to be the new club captain: Liam Cooper. Coop's the only man in the current squad with the experience of leading the team out in front of the Elland Road faithful and he gives his all in games. The lad needs a bit of confidence and being the captain will make him step up. If Monk makes Cooper captain it's a show of faith and it'll inspire confidence into the lad.
For me a captain always needs to be able to see things in front of him and that's why having a captain that's a centre back was always a favourite of mine. He can make the calls and kick a lad up the arse if he so needs it. Coop for Captain.
Matt Robinson: I feel like I’ve pondered this question a lot over the past few seasons as we seem to change captain at least 3 times a year, mainly due to selling them. Seems a bit silly really. Anyway, my first answer is, It doesn’t matter. For Leeds to be successful in the Championship we need captains all over the field. We need leaders all over the field. All the strong personalities need to give advice, take advice, keep calm heads and lead. Green, Bartley, Ayling, Pablo, Dallas, Wood etc. All of them need to be captains for us to be a success.
If you have to get one name out of me though, which I guess is the purpose of the question, I would say Liam Bridcutt. I like my captains to be in the middle of the park shouting instruction to all areas of the pitch, Bridcutt is well positioned to do this. He is experienced, central to all play and will probably play week in week out. Plus, he loved to put in an aggressive tackle, and I like my captains with a bit of fire in them. Cooper is a captain in the making though, but is too young for now. Just.
Joshua Gilbert: My choice would definitely be one of Bartley or Bridcutt, but if I had to choose one or the other, I'll take Liam Bridcutt as our new captain. A midfielder with international experience, and he knows the team from playing with them last year. I think he is Leeds' best player at the moment and someone who can lead the team by attitude, example, and ability on the pitch. I think if Garry Monk makes him the new captain, the team morale will be more positive which will lead to positive results.
James Mahoney: I personally believe there are two main factors required to captain a side:
1 - Have experience of competing at the higher end of the division that you’re playing in.
2 - Preferably play at the Centre Back or Goalkeeper. (Just personal preference)
So, when I look at the current squad, I think the only player who meets the both sets of criteria is… Rob Green.
Green has made 567 domestic career appearances, achieved promotion from England’s 2nd tier on three separate occasions and has 12 international caps to his name.
Rob Green is by far the most experienced and most accomplished player we have within the squad. He has made some well-documented mistakes during his career (including on opening day against QPR). However, he brings a level of defensive reliability and knowledge we have been longing for over the last few years. As the goalkeeper, he has a full view of the game and can re-organise the team accordingly. For me, Rob Green is the best choice to take the armband and lead the team forward.
Anthony Linley: Rob Green is probably our most experienced player, but I'm no fan of Goalkeepers as Captains. They can be too far away from the action (hopefully) to have much of an impact. Based on current form, the defenders at the moment need to be concentrating 100% on their defensive roles without distraction. Equally, the strikers need to be focused on hitting the back of the net and not berating the defenders who should (again hopefully) be out of ear shot.
The Captain needs to be a player who will be consistently playing in every game and who has the respect of the squad. During last season, Liam Bridcutt earned that respect and is my Captain. If he recaptures the form that helped steady Steve Evans ship last season, then he will be an asset as a Captain. He sits in front of the back four and so will be in the perfect position to command. Let's hope he helps steer Garry Monk's ship towards the playoffs.
Johnny Wakefield: Bridcutt, Green, Taylor, Cooper. All are logical choices on some level, all have pieces of what we're looking for in a captain... but none seem like a perfect fit, do they? Liam Bridcutt missed the preseason with Monk's men, and while he played last year, he could be missing that chemistry. Rob Green has the experience, but is he guaranteed to be starting above Silvestri if his goal posts start acting up on him? Charlie Taylor might be our best player, but he wants out at the moment. And Liam Cooper has a spot to view the field, but will he be starting over Bartley and Jansson?
Goodness, what's a fanbase to do?
You're welcome. No, Chris Wood isn't a perfect fit either, but he's my choice for Leeds United captain on Saturday. He takes our penalties, he leads the attack, and he is the captain for his national side, New Zealand.
After Monk and Cellino couldn't grab a striker to start ahead of him in the window, Wood could use the shot of confidence a captain's armband would bring. And maybe, if he sees himself as the leader of this squad, he might delivering on that scoring potential we've all been promised as well.
Bridcutt is a good option too, and I wish Mowatt or Dallas were playing well enough to earn the armband in the midfield as I'm a big fan of their potential, but at this point, I take the man who should be leader of this squad, Chris Wood, above all the other options.
So that's all we have for this week's roundtable. A bit longer than most, but there were lots of hot takes on this one. Which writer do you agree with? Or will it be someone else on Saturday? Vote in the poll and let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading this week, looking forward to Saturday afternoon. #MOT