Carlo Ancelotti insisted that changes needed be made in order for Paris Saint-Germain to overcome their recent blip and nothing is more obvious than the appointment of Thiago Silva as captain.
When the line-up on Tuesday night was announced, the clarification of the Brazilian international being made skipper was the standout news. The fact that he was given the armband ahead of the official captain Christophe Jallet and the vice-captain Mamadou Sakho certainly raised a few eyebrows. The two Frenchman have been alternating the responsibility all season, up until the Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev where both missed out and Ancelotti allowed Silva to lead the troops out. An impressive 2-0 win dually followed.
‘Carletto’ has been impressed the centre-back’s leadership since he got into the team back in September. He has been pretty imperious ever since that sterling debut at home to Kiev where he also got a goal for himself in the process. His qualities as a defender are as good as any in the world but for a player who speaks limited French and was not entirely used to his surroundings in Ligue 1, it is a testament to the man for the way he has settled. All the more impressive by making a coach of Ancelotti’s statue to make such a bold call a quarter or so through the season regarding the captaincy.
In the summer the Italian stressed that the captain would BE French, and nothing would make him change his mind. Sakho had a nightmare start under Ancelotti’s rein at the turn of the year, where his playing time was considerably limited. In all fairness to him, he had been struggling with injuries during the fall of 2011, taking him a while to readjust. Jallet had been Mr. Consistent, making that right-back berth his own and becoming an undervalued member of the team. Carlo identified that, subsequently naming him the new permanent skipper in the summer, with Sakho being relegated to vice.
All that has seemingly changed in recent weeks and is a sign of things to come. The rise to prominence in Paris for Silva has led to Ancelotti making his decision. He was adamant after the defeat to Rennes that something would change, leading to speculation as to what. Javier Pastore has been playing second fiddle, Ezequiel Lavezzi is getting a run in the team, Nene has remerged and Marco Verratti is being rested. All little flickers of the changes Ancelotti has utilised but nothing is more apparent than the switch of the captaincy.
Silva does not need to prove anything in that sense – from a leadership point of view. He has captained one of the biggest club’s in the world in AC Milan, and is the current skipper for one of the most demanding international teams, Brazil. Ancelotti is under no illusions as to how good he is in that regard, leading him to make – you could say – such a brave decision, certainly this early in the campaign. He was adamant in the summer that the captaincy must be given to a French player but the defeat at home to Rennes – against nine-men – has forced his hand.
It will now be interesting to see if the Brazilian will be given the responsibility full-time. Sakho and Jallet in particular are popular individuals with the Parisien faithful and there was a sense of pride that the French lads were leading the line. Jallet, for all the marquee names around him, has worked as hard as anyone to obtain a future at the club, not only succeeding but going as a far as being made captain. This is not the be all or end all by any means. Another run of bad results may force Ancelotti’s hand again, and who knows what will change then.
Silva has impressed, and he will only get better. Now with the added responsibility as skipper on his shoulders it is something he is used to and will no doubt thrive on. It could be a stroke of genius by Ancelotti in the long run.