Gary Neville has been an amazing servant to Manchester United over the seasons and is still a vital part of United’s squad – but how long will Neville remain the captain for and is his possible replacement already at the club?
From Roger Byrne to Bobby Charlton to Bryan Robson and right up to Roy Keane, Manchester United have had some superb captains, all different in style and approach – but all able to motivate players and put in performances that inspire those around them. Charlton being different from those mentioned in the way he conducted himself on the football field as he generally let his feet do his talking.
Neville first made his United debut against Torpedo Moscow in the UEFA cup back in 1992. He has made 532 appearances for the club and has helped United to win eight Premier League titles. Neville is part of the Old Trafford furniture and is still a superb full back. He is one of the most underrated players considering how good he is at delivering crosses and his reading of the game. Neville has been a good captain since replacing Roy Keane in November 2005 – but considering he is now not a first team regular and he enters his 34th year – should we be looking ahead for a replacement?
Ryan Giggs, who is also in the same boat as Neville in terms of playing time and aging legs, has been a superb deputy for Neville in his injury hit 2007/08 season, whilst Rio Ferdinand has also been impressive and was unlucky not to be given the England captaincy. Do we have a potential captain within the ranks at Old Trafford? If so what characteristics will be pivotal to lead United? Below are a number of possible replacements:
Wayne Rooney – Aggressive, determined and a genius. Wayne Rooney would get my vote as United’s next captain simply due to the fact that he has all the desired qualities. He has the ability to inspire team-mates, play for the side rather than himself and can motivate players. Constantly getting criticised for his aggressive style of play in terms of over zealous tackling and his over the top rants – however he wouldn’t be the same player with this streak.
Rio Ferdinand – A great leader on the football pitch that has matured immensely over the past five years. Ferdinand was arrested for drink driving in 1998, which forced the young defender to miss out on a place in Glenn Hoddle’s world cup squad. Ferdinand was then controversially banned from first team action for eight months after missing a drugs test – which was then followed by his reluctancy to sign a new contract. However, since then he has grown in stature and has become one of the top defenders of his generation. Fast, strong and intelligent – Ferdinand has it all and has shown that he can lead United to success after the double winning season last term. Probably the favourite to succeed Neville.
Nemanja Vidic – No nonsense defender who always gets stuck in and never backs down from a tackle or a challenge. Although an unlikely candidate, Vidic has shown leadership qualities in aiding Rafael and Evans integration within the United backline – a backline that hasn’t conceded a Premier League goal since November 2008. Vidic has also proven to be a bit of a match winner after scoring late goals against Everton in 2007 and more recently against Sunderland – popping up in the right place at the right time.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Quite possibly the most unlikely man at the club to take the armband, however remembering an article that I read recently, (yes it was in FourFourTwo!) on players who inspire the side – simply on ability. Ronaldo’s predecessor in the Portuguese national side, and captain, Luis Figo was never renowned for his work rate or motivational techniques for other players – but could inspire due to his sublime technique and skill, something Ronaldo has in abundance.
My choice would go, as mentioned to Rooney as I believe he has all the qualities to make a fine captain and succeed Gary Neville. However, I believe Ferdinand will be given the armband and there isn’t a hope in hell Ronaldo will be given the armband. I wouldn’t welcome Ronaldo as captain, not because of the fact that he is looked upon as a more inspirational figure than your traditional captain (look at Zidane, a superb captain for France even though he was completely different to Blanc or Deschamps) – but because I don’t believe he would be a good captain for Manchester United – I guess I’m in the large majority on that one.
Another piece of news, Stretford-end.com was featured in the Times this week regarding an article we did on Zonal v.s man marking a couple of years ago. I was chuffed when I saw it and was amazed that someone of Gabriele Marcotti calibre was scouring the Internet for a resource on the topic! You never know who is reading your stuff!