During the summer of 2014, there was much speculation over which Spurs star would don the captain’s armband left behind by the departing Michael Dawson.
The reasoning behind why Dawson was such a successful captain was simply the passion and belief he showed in whoever was in charge at the Lane. Whether Jol, Ramos, Redknapp, AVB or Sherwood, the former Forest defender understood the importance of getting behind the manager, whether he championed their philosophies or not.
Dawson recognised that support for the club as a whole was far more important than anything else, and if that meant giving 100% for the man employed to lead them, than that’s exactly what he did through thick and thin – something he often experienced during his turbulent time at the club.
Under a new manager and with the departure of Dawson to Hull City, Younes Kaboul was selected as the new leader of the pack. Despite criticism in the 2013/14 season, early signs have pointed up for the new captain, with his show-stopping defensive display at the Emirates warranting much praise. Much like his French compatriot Hugo Lloris, the skipper illustrates encouraging motivational support for his side. The visit of Southampton to White Hart Lane was the clearest example of this, with Eric Dier’s substitute appearance receiving much praise from the pair.
His celebrations after Harry Kane’s 90th minute winner at Villa Park showed true passion for the club, showing shades of his predecessor. However with defensively stability something Spurs (and the Premier League), so desperately lack at this time, passion is little compensation for conceding goals.
Younes Kaboul at times this season has resurrected some of his more reckless behaviour that Tottenham fans grew to detest in the last campaign. His clumsy ramming into the back of the opponent often results in conceding dangerous free-kicks. In the case of Spurs’ 4-1 defeat to Manchester City, his dangerous slide tackle inside his own area was enough for the official to award a penalty. Luckily for the skipper, Lloris bailed him out of an embarrassing few minutes at the Etihad. The performance at home to Newcastle was once again tired and sloppy from the former Portsmouth man, with his show in the victory over Aston Villa at the weekend far from inspiring.
Partnering Jan Vertonghen can at times be no easy task, with the Belgian lacking in pace. Nonetheless, Kaboul is no sprinter himself, and whether playing against Aguero or Peter Crouch, the necessity to have that capability is something in which he is lacking. Watching your captain play rather sluggish and lethargic is far from awe-inspiring, and with youngsters such as Eric Dier watching on eagerly, Kaboul lacks the clinical permanence that a captain should embody.
So who would perhaps better fit the position of skipper at Tottenham Hotspur? The answer is between the sticks.
Signing on deadline day in 2012, Hugo Lloris has quickly become a fan favourite at White Hart Lane. From daring sweeping to stupendous saves, the former Lyon keeper really has transformed the expected standard of goalkeeping at Spurs (despite many a famous face finding home in the Spurs goal over the years). Although enduring a stunted start, the French international has gained much interest, pushing away speculation of a move to PSG in the summer to remain at the club.
Simply watching the passion he shows after a goal, or even after his defence make a rare tackle, Lloris makes it his duty to praise the team. The difference between the goalkeeper and the current captain is simply performance. As Dawson showed, you can pat your team on the back until the cows come home, however unless you exhibit traits of stability and skill whilst doing so, your team may not give you the desired commitment that Mauricio Pochettino’s side are screaming for.
The best credentials Lloris can present for earning the right to be captain are his 68 international caps for France. Initially becoming captain in 2010 against England, the Frenchman became recognised as a leader for his country. Earning the full title in 2012, it was clear that with a World Cup under his belt, he was the man to take his international team-mates forward.
Performances were key in sustaining such a role, with his understudy Steve Mandanda hot on his heels. The same can be said about the current situation at Spurs. With summer signing Michel Vorm keen to break into the first-team, Lloris has continued to battle hard for his number one shirt. Maintaining a role in both the league and Europa League presented a clear example of Lloris’ willingness to play, desire to push himself further, and growing passion for pulling on the Tottenham shirt.
Lloris seems to want the ‘Pochettino style’ to work more than anyone. From interviews he seems to want the system to click and from celebrations it is clear that he is ecstatic when it comes together. Lloris has developed a love for Spurs since signing, perhaps because he can see that there is something (whether hard to see at the moment), for the club to build towards. With little left on the contract of Younes Kaboul (and with it becoming increasingly unlikely for him to extend it), Spurs need to appoint a captain that will remain for the long-term. Lloris has shown the key credentials to take-on such a position, however with frustration creeping into the dressing room on current performances, a test of patience will identify whether this desired long-term skipper is the man himself.