Luka Milivojevic was given the captain’s armband for Saturday’s 1-0 win over Burnley and embodied exactly what Palace fans want from their on-pitch leader throughout the course of the game.
He comes from Serbia he'll fooking murder ya. My heart just melted a little. Don't touch my Wilf. Captain next season imo. pic.twitter.com/qXgVk0DJ9P
— Suzanne CPFC (@Suzb04) January 14, 2018
Having worn his heart on his sleeve from the moment he arrived at the club last January, the Serbian endured his most emotionally testing time in red and blue in the hours immediately after his missed penalty against Manchester City on New Year’s Eve.
Gifted the chance to end Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten run, (which Liverpool finally managed yesterday) Luka saw his last-gasp penalty saved by City keeper Ederson, prompting him to apologise profusely to the Palace faithful. Thankfully, he was offered the chance to make amends just two days later against Southampton and bagged the winner in spectacular fashion before admitting post-match that he’d barely slept since the penalty nightmare 48 hours earlier.
On Saturday, Milivojevic was given the captain’s armband from the start and put in the sort of shift we used to associate with Aussie powerhouse Mile Jedinak when he was leading the squad a couple of seasons ago. Happy to run himself into the ground for the cause, Luka also showed a willingness to protect Wilf in a moment that threatened to spiral out of control, which for regular watchers of Palace, makes him worth his weight in gold.
Following a flash-point that saw the 25-year-old winger tumble into an off-pitch camera and react aggressively in the split second that followed, Milivojevic made a beeline for the academy graduate and literally put his body in between him and the Burnley players who’d made their way over to give their point of view. It was a moment that embodied what a captain should do, particularly at our club and I’m certain that it left many feeling as though the former Olympiakos man was the perfect candidate to take over the captaincy on a long-term basis.
In Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins, Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur, I feel as though we have an extremely solid core of on-pitch personalities who are ready and willing to drive the team on with every kick and that sort of spine should never be underestimated. During and relegation battle you need players who are willing to stand up and be counted and as Luka showed in the video above, he’s happy to pick up a few bumps and bruises when the occasion calls for it.