From the moment he arrived in SE25, Luka Milivojevic had the look of a man who could handle the captain’s armband and on Saturday, the Serbian proved beyond any doubt that he’s the right man for the job.
We wanted to interview Luka Milivojevic for Sky and BBC after the game but he was feeling unwell. He'd insisted on playing and was physically shattered. Great attitude, great character #CPFC
— Gary Taphouse (@garytaphouse) March 17, 2018
Spent the night throwing up then put in that performance. (Luka, not Gary) https://t.co/2ypiStRj7Q
— Chris Grierson 🇦🇬 (@chrisgrierson) March 17, 2018
Alongside Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon who have both fulfilled the role at points prior to their season-ending injuries, we have one or two other likely candidates in the shape of James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho but for me personally, Luka is the standout option and always has been.
On Saturday, he put in a colossal display in the middle of the park, playing with a trademark sense of calm whilst covering every blade of grass before taking responsibility for the spot-kick which gave us a 2-0 lead midway through the second period and all but killed Huddersfield’s faint hopes of mounting a comeback.
It was his eighth goal of a campaign in which he has been utterly pivotal for us but shortly after the conclusion of the fixture, it became clear that he may not have played at all, had he not been so determined to put it all on the line for the shirt on Saturday morning. Incredibly, he had spent all of Friday night being sick in his hotel room, struggling to get any sleep as a consequence; a fact which makes his display on the day even more awe-inspiring.
I was unsure when Mile Jedinak was sold to Aston Villa, that we’d ever find a central midfielder capable of filling the gigantic hole the Aussie left in our dressing room but incredibly, we appear to have secured a more than adequate replacement in the shape of Luka Milivojevic.
Happy to take charge of any and every set-piece, hard in the tackle and quick to act as protector-in-chief when the opposition look to rough up the likes of Wilfried Zaha, the Serbian ticks all the boxes you would look for when searching for a leader of men. Add in to that mix the fact that he’s been an ever-present player for us this term and there really can be no debate.
Luka Milivojevic is the captain Crystal Palace FC deserves.