Hanley has the chance to write his name into local legend as Canaries captain
PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:39 01 August 2018
Following the appointment of Grant Hanley as the new Norwich City captain, David Freezer assesses how the Scot can follow in the footsteps of Canaries legends who have also worn the armband.
It doesn’t matter who the captain is. It’s all about the group. The experienced lads will all be leaders. We’ve all heard the safe answers trotted out throughout football when it comes to who wears the armband.
It may well be the case that some coaches don’t feel the skipper is of huge importance, or that in some dressing rooms there isn’t one dominant leader, but it does matter to supporters.
If it’s not important, what’s the point of anyone wearing an armband at all?
Grant Hanley is the latest player to be appointed Norwich City captain – and it’s a decision that has widely been welcomed as the right man to lead Daniel Farke’s squad. The Scot follows in the footsteps of great Canaries skippers such as Ron Ashman, Duncan Forbes, Dave Watson and Grant Holt, esteemed players who led the club to success and earned their place in the history books.
City’s new leader comes across as an alpha male, with a deep Scottish voice, an unassuming character and a strong stature that earned the chant ‘you’ll never beat the Hanley’ in his first season in charge.
Head coach Farke admits it was an easy decision to appoint the ‘natural leader’ who added much needed steel to a fractured back-line less than a year ago.
The strapping centre-back was signed from Newcastle for a reported £3.5million during the final days of the 2017 summer transfer window, four days after City had been humbled in a 4-0 thrashing at Millwall.
He initially had to be patient for his chance as fortunes under Farke took an upturn with the return to fitness of Timm Klose and Alex Tettey sparking an eight-game unbeaten run in the Championship.
Eventually the former Blackburn defender became one of the first names on the teamsheet though, missing just three games after Christmas and eventually finishing second in the player-of-the-season voting.
That fateful day at Millwall had seen previous skipper Russell Martin – the man who lifted the play-off trophy at Wembley in 2015 – fall out of favour under Farke and eventually leave for Rangers on loan.
It was Ivo Pinto’s strength of character which earned the armband in Martin’s absence, although Tettey and Klose also took on the responsibility during the Portuguese right-back’s injury issues during the second half of the season.
All of which led to Hanley being the clear favourite to become captain among Canaries fans this summer, as emphasised in our current pre-season survey at Pinkun.com, with 96 percent of over 2,000 voters so far backing the Scot as the correct choice.
However, it wasn’t until last week’s friendly at Luton that the Scotland international was first spotted with the armband around his left bicep.
“I don’t think it makes a difference to me whether I’ve got the armband on or not,” Hanley said after that 3-1 win, which was before his appointment had been publicly confirmed.
“I’ll always be the same and will always take that responsibility – but it was nice to have it on, I enjoyed it.”
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Those are exactly the sentiments supporters will want to hear from their captain but what does a captain actually have to do?
First and foremost they need to represent their club in a positive and professional manner, often acting as the figurehead publicly but also bridging the gap between head coach and players when dressing room issues arise throughout the season.
Extra media responsibilities also come with the job, with Martin in particular often taking on the unenviable task of spokesman for the squad when times were bad – usually when no other player was willing to.
Before kick-off there is the captain’s meeting with the match officials and the tossing of the coin to decide who will start the game with the referee.
It is once the whistle is blown that the real influence can be seen though, ensuring tactics are being followed, that team-mates who need motivating are kept on their toes, or those who need reassurance get an arm around the shoulder.
Fresh from his appointment it was clear that Hanley had taken his role to heart quickly, bellowing orders during the latter stages of a shaky first half in particular of the 1-0 friendly defeat.
Now City supporters have got their man but if he is to truly follow in the footsteps of the last Grant to captain the Canaries, Holt, or the club’s most iconic Scottish leader, Forbes, it is clear what is needed: promotion.
Both of those previous captains led Norwich back to the top flight as talismanic figures. Now Hanley has the opportunity to write his own name into local legend.
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