Nedum Onuoha: I always knew I had what it took to become a captain
PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 August 2016
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Nedum Onuoha says he always knew he had what it took to become a captain – and believes his approach to the role is the best way to keep his team-mates on side and maintain unity.
The 29-year-old defender, who was appointed skipper by former head coach Chris Ramsey last summer, is a calm and composed character on and off the field, and feels going about things in that way is far more effective than shouting and singling out individuals when they make mistakes.
He said: “You can make a point by pointing or screaming at someone in their face, or you can go over to the person and tell them what they should have done.
“As professionals you recognise when you make a mistake.
“In the past in my opinion there have been people here shouting and screaming, but for the wrong reasons, because at the end of the day it’s about doing it for the team, not doing it for someone watching on to see if you’re shouting or screaming.
“I’d rather be the person who gets the message across to every player on the field in a private way, than the one who has to be perceived to be doing it.
“Not every player can deal with the shouting and screaming. If you shout at a particular one you might lose the respect of that player.
“I’d rather have 10 people by my side, than a couple who are unhappy with the way I have treated them – that can cause problems.”
He continued: “Certain people at this club in the past were captains for themselves as opposed to the players.
“They are experienced players and did well here, but you just know when someone is doing it for themselves. It’s very hard to rally around them.
“If you do things in the right way everyone buys into it, and we have that unity here at the moment.
“You want to do well for the club and the fans and so on, but the fact is they are not the ones on the pitch.
“If you can have the whole squad all pushing in the same direction you’ll do well, regardless if you’ve got the 11 best players in the world or just 11 ordinary ones – it’s all about team spirit.”
The former Manchester City man, who played every minute of last year’s league campaign, believes he had the squad’s backing when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink opted to keep him as skipper.
He added: “I think the players fully agreed with the decision for me to remain as captain.
“There’s nothing contentious about it when you know you have that vote of confidence from the staff, the players and the board. It makes you feel really good.”
While Onuoha had never been a captain prior to his spell at Loftus Road, he was always quietly confident that opportunity would fall his way.
“I’ve not changed my approach – it’s always been the same,” he said.
“Before this I’d never been captain, but some people viewed me as that anyway, whether it was on or off the field.
“I like to set a good example and people have bought into that. So being made captain is something which I’m obviously very proud of, but I can carry on being the same person I am anyway.
“All the stuff that led to that honour is the way I am – those are my basics.
“So I’m enjoying being the same guy, just with more responsibility. Hopefully I can lead this side to greater success.”
Onuoha says he has no qualms about playing at right-back this season, a position he is all too familiar with during his career.
He said: “I’ve played over 100 games at full-back, so it’s no concern for me.
“Obviously the ideal situation for me would be to play at centre-back, but just playing football in general is a massive thing for me.
“Whichever way we set up it’ll be no problem for me as we’ve got good players throughout the squad.
“Defensively we are looking very strong. But a lot of that has come from the work the midfielders do in front of them.
“They are always on the front foot in terms of trying to get the ball from opposing players, but they do give us a lot of protection as well, so it’s a lot harder for us now to be isolated.”
Onuoha, who turns 30 in November, believes the Rs can have a real crack at promotion this term, despite the Championship being arguably the strongest it has been in some time.
Recently relegated Newcastle have flexed their financial muscle, while the likes of Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby, to name just a few, head into the season with lofty ambitions.
“The aspiration is in a year’s time to be getting prepared for a season in the Premier League,” admitted Onuoha.
“Whether or not that happens is a different matter. When you’re in the Championship it’s not just a case of surviving or being there, that’s somewhere higher which you’d like to get to.
“You look at some of the teams who are in the division this season and it’s crazy, there’s so much strength in depth.
“But we have good quality in our squad as well and have to believe that we can achieve something special this year.
“The main objective here is to get into the Premier League and we’ll be doing everything we can as a squad to achieve that.
“That’s everyone’s ultimate goal here and we believe we can do it.”