With Wayne Rooney looking as though he’s half-way out of the door and on his way back down the M62, it seems like Jose Mourinho could have a big decision on his hands. Just who should be the next Manchester United captain?
A tough act to follow in terms of experience, with 13 years at the club, hitting the club record of 253 goals in 559 games and just the 12 major honours, including five Premier League titles and a Champions League. *Deep breath*
Although his captaincy has, arguably, coincided with the poorest years of his career, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s the longest serving player currently at the club.
Our traders make veteran Michael Carrick, who after Rooney has been at Old Trafford the longest. He’s been cut from 3/1 into 1/4 to be the club’s next skipper after a tweet from Neil Custis (Louis van Gaa’s favourite ‘fat man’) last night suggesting he could be Jose’s choice. Nothing has been confirmed though, especially considering the captain himself hasn’t yet moved on.
It could be worth taking this with a pinch of salt, considering although he’s got a jam-packed trophy cabinet, it seems unlikely that he’ll be getting the game-time next season. That probably doesn’t scream captain material – but then again Wazza himself only featured two more times in the league than 35-year-old Carrick.
Next up is Ander Herrera at 7/2 to take up the captain’s armband should Roo leave. There’s no doubting that he’s the fans’ favourite, particularly last season, when he was not only awarded the Sir Matt Busby player of the year award, but also the unofficial “Fans’ favourite snide” gong.
Jose Mourinho has spoken of his admiration for the Spaniard too, particularly after his man-marking masterclass against Chelsea at home and his quick-thinking in the Europa League final. That being said, Herrera has distanced himself from the role previously, saying he doesn’t feel he deserves it just yet.
While he might be the favourite of those in the terraces, whether Mourinho would trust him to lead the team after three years at the club, is another matter.
— Full Time DEVILS (@FullTimeDEVILS) June 30, 2017
It could be that at 31-years-old, Antonio Valencia is ruled out of the mix. Rooney’s exit could be a fresh start for both the gaffer and the club, and offering it to Tony V could contradict that. Though at 8/1, he could be the value pick of the bunch.
He was one of – if not the – standout performers of last campaign, voted the players’ player of the year for the second time in a red shirt. Not only that, but he captained the Europa League Final and consistently looked like one of the best right-backs in the season. Yes, he doesn’t scream or shout. But he puts in a shift, and you’d be absolutely terrified to cross him in a dark alleyway.
If you look at some of Jose’s previous captains, John Terry, Javier Zanetti and Ricardo Carvalho are all defensive players. Making it tough to rule out Valencia taking the armband out of the current crop, even if just for a season.
Next in the betting, at 16/1, is David de Gea. You know, provided Real Madrid haven’t snatched him out of United’s grip. It seems unlikely given his position, although he’s certainly not a player you could accuse of being shy of giving out a bollocking or two to his teammates.
There are some big boots to fill whoever should be picked as the top boy. It can’t be easy following in the footsteps of the likes of Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Eric Cantona or Sir Bobby Charlton.
The last United captain to lift the Premier League trophy was actually Nemanja Vidic. To put that into perspective, he retired from football entirely 18 months ago, and left the club in 2014.
If Mourinho wants to drive the Red Devils forward, and deliver them a league title, a ferocious and fervid skipper might not be a bad place to start anew.