The ADMIRAL Bundesliga season 2023/24 has started and seven of the 12 teams are led by new captains. In the WSG Tyrol even the variant “job sharing” was introduced, lead midfielders Valentino Muller and the young central defender Felix Bacher, who, however, is injured for the time being, the Watteners alternate on the field. Explains the important role a captain plays in the team and why a team doesn’t work without a leader Mental coach Wolfgang Seidl in his new column.
In addition to the Styrian referee Christian-Petru Ciochirca, their teams led the field in the opening game of the 50th anniversary season of the ADMIRAL Bundesliga on Friday in Linz’s Raiffeisen Arena: Guido Burgstaller (left) from SK Rapid and Robert Žulj from host LASK. Both the 31-year-old Upper Austrian and the 34-year-old Carinthian and top scorer of the previous season also bring their legionnaire experience from the German Bundesliga and 2nd division to their position.
No goalkeeper among the captains this time
We are looking forward to the new season with excitement, also with regard to the changes in the captains of the 12 ADMIRAL Bundesliga clubs. For the first time there is no goalkeeper as usual in previous years. Especially when SHOTwhere after the ÖFB team goalkeepers Pavalo Pervan (VfL Wolfsburg) and Alexander Schlager (FC Red Bull Salzburg) is the first field player to take over the loop for the first time in many years. The 31-year-old Welser Robert Žulj.
In the Wiener Austria the team chose the 27-year-old Manfred Fischer to the captain. Second captain is the 34-year-old Australian James Hollandwho forms the team council together with three other players and Captain Fischer.
At Austria Klagenfurt is the 33 year old Thorsten Mahrer the successor of Markus Pink, who joined Shanghai Port in March after the end of the pre-season regular season in China. Mahrer was also one of the leading players in the Carinthian Violets before that.
At the TSV Hartberg is now worn by the 26-year-old Jurgen Heil the captain’s ribbon, which he received from long-term goalkeeper Rene Swete takes over.
In the WSG Tyrol has become head coach Thomas Silberberger decided to give the captain role to two younger players, namely the 22-year-old Felix Bacher and the 24 year old Valentino Muller transferred to. These act on an equal footing, wearing the ribbon in competitive games takes turns. Silberberger argues that he wants to spread the heavy load of captaincy between two young players.
The remaining teams rely on the same faces for their captains as in the previous season. First and foremost the BL top duo, series champions FC Red Bull Salzburg and runner-up SK Puntigamer Sturm Graz, with their long-time captains Andreas Ulmer or. Stefan Hierlander.
Let captain choose or determine?
As an outsider, it’s exciting to watch players become captains. Using the example of Vienna Austria, the players were democratically elected by the team. So says the German head coach Michael Wimmerthat it is important to him that the captain is determined by the teammates.
At WSG Tirol, on the other hand, the (long-term) trainer takes care of this personally and hands over this important function to a young team of two. I don’t think there is a panacea here, but each team has to find the ideal solution based on its structure.
Requirements for the captain and his duties
The captaincy presupposes that that player has previously assumed the role of a leader. He should know his teammates well, be respected by everyone and be the point of contact for every topic. This requires communication skills. He’s also a kind of link between the coach and the rest of the team.
Charles Ancelotti tells how in his biography at Chelsea FC Didier Drogba joined the team. Drogba was considered a simulant and king of swallows, which goes against the notion of fair play in English football culture. Ancelotti then handed over to his captain John Terry the responsibility of speaking to Drogba, because sometimes it is more effective when such a conversation comes from the team’s spokesman rather than the coach himself.
Terry lived these values and was a role model. After that, the exceptional Ivorian striker Drogba changed his style of play, scored plenty of goals and became a club legend.
A captain is challenged in many ways. Has priority over all to call up his own performance, also to act as a communicator, to be an “extended arm” of the trainer, mouthpiece of his team, integrator, role model and first point of contact for his team at the referee. As in the opening match, Neo-LASK captain Robert Žulj here Referee Christian-Petru Ciochirca. With the number 10 of the Linzer there is a positive identification with Upper Austria.
Mental resilience is a requirement
The captain must be mentally resilient and radiate calm even in the most difficult moments on the pitch. He has to be in control of what’s happening on the pitch and not allow himself to be guided by his emotions.
He is the first point of contact for the referee during the match. In aggressively conducted matches, he should courageously shape the game, set a good example and take the hustle and bustle out of the game.
At Austria Klagenfurt, the leadership roles are shared between several players. In addition to regular captain Thorsten Mahrer, his deputy Christopher Cvetko is also an “extended arm” of head coach Peter Pacult. The axis also plays an important role. At the Kärntner Violetten with goalkeeper Menzel, the experienced central defender duo Mahrer/Wimmer and before that Cvetko in central midfield.
Ideal picture: several leaders in the team
Due to his leadership role, he can also turn around seemingly lost games in the match. To do this, he has to rebuild disappointed players, point them out to their tasks, coach players, and motivate and push the team.
Due to his role model function – fighting until the last second – he can carry his teammates along more easily.
It would be ideal if a team has several leading players and they can also act optimally in terms of spatial distribution – defensive – midfield – offensive – on the pitch. Here, as a leader and developer, the captain can contribute his experience and knowledge.
The captain’s responsibility also lies in the fact that in teams with players from different cultures no small groups form within the team. He also helps maintain harmony within the team. As a leader, he should recognize conflicts in good time and take the necessary measures together with the trainer.
Coaching for the captain
So we see what an important and responsible position a captain holds in a team. This role needs to be developed and promoted, especially among younger players.
In my work as a mental coach, I also work with captains, among other things, so that they can carry out this supporting and challenging role with determination and are therefore a great support for the entire team.
Wolfgang Seidl, is an independent academic mental coach with a practice in Styria and Vienna. As a coach, he looks after athletes, stressed people, teams and companies.
The focus of his work with football is on the one hand in the mental individual support of players and in the mental advice of teams.
Wolfgang Seidl, MBA
Academic mental coach
Qualified team developer
Practice Styria: Burgauerstrasse 49; 8283 beer tree
Practice Vienna: Cumberlandstrasse 102; 1140 Vienna
Photo credit: Harald Dostal/www.sport-bilder.at
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