Recently it has been confirmed, after being rumoured a couple of weeks ago, that Nottingham Forest’s captain, Paul McKenna, has departed the City Ground for pastures new, in the form of Nigel Pearson’s Hull City. McKenna, along with another Forest veteran, Dele Adebola, have both left on free transfers. This leaves the spot open for Nottingham Forest captain, ahead of the new campaign.
First of all, I would like to talk about McKenna’s impact at the club. Having signed for Forest in July 2009 for a fee of around £750,000 and out of the 9 signings made by ex-reds boss Billy Davies, without a doubt he was one of the better bits of business. McKenna had been Davies’ captain at Preston North End, where he made over 400 appearances in his 17 years there, and he clearly knew he was getting a leader. McKenna’s impact in his first season at the club was huge. He was the man barking out orders, constantly directing players where to run and pass as well as cleverly and subtly being in the refs ear throughout the game. He was the anchor that allowed Forest to play the flowing, attacking football that saw us climb to 3rd in the table and turn The City Ground into a fortress. He did the simple things well, and that kind of player I think is a must have for most teams. His influence was clearly displayed in his absence through injury towards the end of the campaign and Forest’s huge desire to have him back fit for the Blackpool ties. He did return, but we all know what happened there. While still managing to amass 35 appearances and scoring 2 goals (including a crucial late volley against Leicester City to snatch the game 3-2), he never quite recreated his form from the previous year, and was seen on the bench a lot more than you’d expect under his old friend Davies. Nonetheless, McKenna has been an experienced head and a guiding force behind our two play off campaigns, and he has been a very good Captain and will be tough to replace.
Steve McClaren has every right to bring in his own Captain, but Forest need to promote from within. Lee Camp was a more than capable understudy to McKenna and may well stay on with the armband. However, if it was down to me, there would be no contest, it would go to Luke Chambers. He has finally come into his own this season and has managed to form a strong partnership with Wes Morgan. Even stronger than that of Wes and Kelvin Wilson, something that didn’t seem possible having only seen Chambers play out of position at right back. Having picked up the Player of the Year award this season (voted for by the fans) and with speculation about Forest’s big guns possibly leaving over summer, the armband is not only a fitting reward, but an incentive to make him stay. Chambers and McKenna have many similarities. Chambers is not only the most vocal player across the back four, directing his fellow defenders, but the most vocal player in our squad. I don’t see many players with the passion he has. He scores goals and celebrates like he truly cares and loves wearing the shirt. You can see he’s a character too, having scored 2 against Scunthorpe at home, he was up challenging for free kick duty with Kris Boyd and Robert Earnshaw in order to get his hattrick. No disrespect to Lee Camp, who too shows passion and along with Chambers is a real fan favourite, but it’s a lot easier having a captain at centre half than it is in goal. For me, Chambers’ passion, leadership credentials and real love of the club and the game make him the perfect candidate to succeed Paul McKenna and wear the captain’s armband for next season.