Marked Man

Tuesday 23 January 2007

What kind of player makes the best captain? Some say strikers, because they can lead from the front, others defenders, because they can see the whole game from where they’re positioned.

But there is no question that some of football’s finest captains have been central midfielders. Think Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, or Bryan Robson and you’ll see the argument.

When Fulham played Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday Michael Brown started his first home League game as Club Captain and the game was an ideal test of his central-midfield leadership - a match against his former employers.

What strikes you straight away about Brown is his positive outlook on everything. His enthusiasm for football, his team-mates and the future of Fulham Football Club is infectious. At stages this season it has been hard to stay optimistic amidst the catalogue of injuries the First Team has suffered, but Browny always remained upbeat. “We have done so well when you take into account the key injuries that we have suffered,” he says. “When you take players like Jimmy, Zat and Antti out of your team, that’s the spine gone just like that.

"I just want to be playing football as much as I can and now with the added reward of being made Captain it makes it even better." Michael Brown

“We negotiated our way through the really demanding festive schedule and have left ourselves in a good position to really kick on and achieve the goals that we set ourselves at the beginning of the season. This is a really exciting time for both the players and fans.”

Having spent almost a year at Motspur Park, he looks back with satisfaction on his decision to move across London. “It was difficult for me,” he says. “I got games for Spurs but when the window opened they went out and bought more centre midfielders, which causes more doubt in your mind. Fulham came in for me and I knew it was the right move and looking back I think this decision has been vindicated.

“More than anything I have enjoyed performing on a consistent basis. I just want to be playing football as much as I can and now with the added reward of being made Captain it makes it even better. Ever since I was 17, all I wanted to do was play football and even though 10 years have passed my attitude remains exactly the same.”

In recent weeks the partnership that messrs Brown and Volz have formed has been one to out-fight and out-think those of Chelsea and Middlesbrough amongst others. Once an unlikely colleague in the centre, Volz has complemented Brown well.

“I am thoroughly enjoying it,” says the Englishman. “The one thing you know you’re going to get when you play with him is 100 per cent commitment and energy. He is a player that likes to get on the ball and play which fits with the way we play. He gets up and down the pitch well and his eye for goal is obvious – I’m already playing catch up on that one.”

The attacking side of the game is something that Brown is constantly working on and an area he hopes will improve in 2007. “I think there is still a lot to come from Michael Brown, I feel I am improving all the time but I want to get myself in more goal scoring positions as well and get my name on the score sheet. At the moment, well I haven’t got any, so that needs to change.”

Brown has never been afraid to lead by example. During the last year there have been occasions on which the ferocity of his tackling has cost him, but Brown is quick, however, to dispel any illusions about when he goes in for the ball. “Whatever has been said before, I am a wholehearted player who gives 100 per cent. I go into tackles to win the ball, that’s it. Sometimes, inevitably, you will catch players but never is it my intention to hurt them. I just play to win for my team and am totally committed to that.”

And it is this wholehearted approach that has endeared the man to the Fulham faithful and made Chris Coleman’s choice of Captain straightforward. Brown’s desire to “make Fulham as successful a team as possible” is the epitome of Fulham’s Captain Courageous.