Wayne Rooney will go down in the Manchester United hall of fame as one of the greatest goal scorers to ever grace the Red shirt with 209 goals, however he will never be held in the same regard as true club legends such as Sir Bobby Charlton and Paul Scholes.
This season is quite an extraordinary one for many Manchester United supporters. Supporters who have become so accustomed to glory, its second nature to them. Not only has the lack of silverware made this season extraordinary, the amount of changes that have swept through the club has also made this season quite unique.
One thing however up to this point that remained quite stable was the captaincy. It was in the arms of our very own warrior Vidic. One of the finest defenders to grace the Red shirt, he is a man who puts everything into a match and in the process motivates his team mates. His last ditch challenges and his willingness to risk his body for the club have lead to us to love the great Serbian. However his pre-contract agreement, during the course of the season with Italian club Inter Milan has left a sour taste. It seems oddly our of character for him to make such a move that will undoubtedly weaken the club. It also leads to the question. Who will captain us after Vidic’s departure?
David Moyes seems to have already made his mind up about that, “I think Wayne has always had the ability to be a captain,” explained Moyes. “He’s got that love of football as the biggest thing because he loves the game and loves the ball and kicking it around. He’s a natural and, in his own way, leads by example in what he tries to do. In future years, he could be the skipper here.” (Source)
If your view is that football is just a game and that players like Rooney run around the pitch for their paycheck at the end of the week, then you will agree with Moyes.
Yes, it is time to give Rooney the captaincy, because statistically he has been the most crucial player this season for Manchester United.
However if you believe that football is a religion, and that you have been brought up to worship and spend all of your days and money following Manchester United across England and Europe, regardless of weather and other commitments, simply for the pleasure of being a Red you might have a differing view.
Rooney’s £300,000 p/w new deal confirmed he plays for the money that the club offers him rather than the opportunity to represent Manchester United. This much is well known fact. Maybe that is just the way modern football is. Footballers like Rooney are paid millions to play for large multi-national corporations so they can keep their share price high.
But at Manchester United he is also paid to make dreams come true.
He is paid to carry the hopes and dreams of millions such as you and me. The hopes of seeing our team lifting title after title. He is also paid to not bring the name of our great club into disrepute, something he has already done, via his transfer request(s).
When we look down the list of previous Manchester United captains, we see great names such as Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce and Roy Keane. They are all heroic figures who over the years served the club selflessly. Either one of them would happily dive in front of a rocketing ball for the cause, either one of them would play in any position required, either one of them would take a pay cut. They would do almost anything for the club. That is because they are Manchester United captains and the red blood that flows through their veins is United blood.
Rooney’s actions are driven by the economics and not by the love of the club. He would quite happily jump ship, with the mere mention of a pay cut and would moan and fret endlessly when played out of position. These are not qualities of a Manchester United captain. Does that mean I don’t rate Rooney? Of course not! I think he is one of the few players on the pitch who can make a real difference against any opposition. His work rate is unparalelled by any other player in the red of Manchester and his inclusion in the team is a must if we wish to qualify for the Champions league in the future.
Is Rooney a great player? Yes.
Is Rooney a great captain? No
So the questions still remains. Who will captain us after Vidic’s departure? A short term answer to that question would be Patrice Evra. Over the years, he has been a loyal servant to the club and despite arguably being past his best, he is respected by every single member of the Manchester United squad. His contributions in the final third this season have also often been the difference between a win and a defeat. The Frenchman’s experience will be crucial this season, and the next in guiding us through this difficult period. However, unfortunately his future at Manchester United is in doubt as many supporters believe his defensive capabilities leave us open at the back. With that point I agree, however I also think that his inclusion in the team is necessary as the experience and attacking threat the French captain brings to the pitch outweighs his defensive shortcomings.
For the longer term I see Phil Jones as our captain. The defender has been going through a tough spell with injuries however his willingness to play in any position and his hard tackling reminds me of Vidic. One of my favourite Jones moment, that instantly made me like him him was during his Blackburn days.
Blackburn were down 6-0 to Manchester United and understandably all the Blackburn players were downbeat and had given up on the game. The only exception was a very young teenage Phil Jones who despite the scoreline rallied his troops and refused to give up. He acted beyond his years and showed signs of a great leader. His ‘Never Give Up’ attitude is a trait that all Manchester United captains possess. The match ended 7-1 but that day a new leader was born. I hope he recovers from his injuries and in time leads us to trophy after trophy, like previous great Manchester United captains have done.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post, and if you would like to receive more posts like this just follow my blog to receive regular updates of when I post.