Though nothing has been finalized yet as of this writing, Kevin Nolan appears to be on his way to West Ham United, which leaves an obvious hole both in the midfield and at the captaincy. Reno astutely pointed out that Pardew will be able to make his mark on the team by choosing his own captain. While it's highly unlikely that Nolan's status as captain had anything to do with his departure, the opportunity for Alan to galvanize the dressing room with a solid pick is very real.
I've narrowed the viable candidates down to 7 (It's pretty safe to assume that the new skipper will not be one of the new guys) and given some brief thoughts on the pros and cons for each one. Follow the jump for all 7, listed in inverse order of my own personal preference.
Jose Enrique Sanchez
The Case For: The armband could be dangled as an incentive for staying on Tyneside. He's got tons of rapport with the other Spanish-speaking players.
The Case Against: The comments he's made about the team's stature over the last few months don't exactly scream "Leadership." Soft-spoken.
Odds it Happens: What are the odds he's actually on the team? Take that percentage and divide it by ten.
The Case For: He's the longest tenured outfield player on the squad and he's filled in just fine before. Plus, I'm pretty sure that Shola as captain is automatically worth 2 goals in the Derby.
The Case Against: Newcastle is spending a lot of time, energy, and money looking for replacements for him and the other strikers. How can he be a captain if he's not on the field?
Odds it Happens: About the same as the odds of Shola scoring a goal in any given non-derby match.
The Case For: He's young, but not prohibitively so, and is one of the faces of the future of the team, having recently signed a contract that will keep him on Tyneside until 2016.. Giving him the captaincy may just be the boost he needs to become a leader. Sometimes leaders are made because they're forced into positions of authority, and he has the presence to pull it off.
The Case Against: See Shola Ameobi RE: playing time, but to a lesser extent.
Odds it Happens: If he makes himself a no doubt starter over Steven Taylor, this could very well happen, though Pardew will likely want to name his captain publicly before the team reports on July 5.
The Case For: Like Jose Enrique, it's possible that he could be enticed to stay by a guarantee that he'll skipper the club. Seemed to be Pardew's choice in Nolan's absence down the stretch in 2011.
The Case Against: If it's true that a club takes on the persona of its captain, there's a lot to worry about here, sort-of-rehabilitated image notwithstanding.
Odds it Happens: The same as the odds that Barton's foray into California this summer has actually turned him into an ironic T-shirt wearing hipster, so...pretty good.
The Case For: He's a natural leader and director of traffic in the back of the midfield, so formalizing his role simply makes sense.
The Case Against: The captain cannot be the guy who is going to have the most fouls in every game. A good rapport with the referees is a must, and Tiote does not possess that.
Odds it Happens: Let's put it this way: I'm more confident in Tiote's ability to avoid any card-related suspension in 2011-12.
The Case For: It's the only argument I need, Shawn!
The Case Against: See above.
Odds it Happens: Less than Barton, more than Jose Enrique.
The Case For: He's consistent and rarely loses his head. The other players obviously respect him. As durable as he is, missed time is not much of a concern.
The Case Against: The one time he wore the armband happens to coincide with the one time he lost his head, earning himself a red card. That incident happened under Chris Hughton, but it is telling that Pardew was unwilling to go to him while Nolan was out and he had the opportunity to do so.
Odds it Happens: Take the ratio of unicorns to leprechauns and double it.