Who would you like to see as United’s next captain?

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!

15 Comments on Who would you like to see as United’s next captain?

  1. There are only two players who would make a good captain for United. Vidic and Rio IMO. And its not an insult to the rest of players because being a captain is a hard job and should take nothing away from a player, if its not their kind of thing.

    My choice would be Rio but not Rooney at all. Rooney still has a hell of a lot of growing up to do. Kicking out, shouting, swearing, crowding the referee. He would be an extremely embarissing captain. I would hate it if he was made captain. He has no composure or calmness

  2. Thanks for the feedback Mark, good stuff. Do you think that the additional responsibility placed upon Rooney’s shoulders may alter the way in which he conducts himself? For instance with Cantona – he used to be extremely temperamental pre-Crystal Palace.

    When he came back he was more calmer and he led us to the 96 title and FA Cup – which then landed him the Captain’s armband from Bruce. So the extra responsibility may help him….

    What do you think?

  3. Class picture of Gaz. Love it.

    Wayne will be our captain before his career is over — I have absolutely no doubt about that. But not yet. It’ll be Rio — and it has to be. He’s perfect for the job, and Fergie will always go based on seniority.

  4. RE: Stretford- end

    No problem mate. Good blogs. Lets not go in to it, but Cantona was treated disgustingly as a result of the Palace incident BUT the ban did allow him to spend time controlling his temper. I think it would take something similiar for Rooney which obviously we don’t want. Plus Eric loved us. If we went down, he would have stayed with us. He was the icon of United. Can’t say the same about Rooney

    As also a season ticket holder, I love watching the likes of Ronaldo, Park, Berbatov, Rooney and Tevez week in, week out, I just don’t think any are captain material and like I said thats not an insult and all are fantastic players. But also being captain and messing up can ruin your reputation with fans. Gallas wa sloved before being made arse captain.

  5. Re: Rooney –
    “however he wouldn’t be the same player with this streak.”

    I have to disagree. No one is saying that they want him to lose all his aggression or perhaps more accurately – his passion.
    But to suggest that his current habit of kicking opponents, swearing at referees and generally losing control is an essential part of his game is wrong.
    Given how his form has pretty much always been inconsistent and patchy, you could argue that him changing his ways is not only not a bad thing but might in fact be essential for him to ever fulfil his full potential.
    Regardless, there’s plenty of time yet for him to become captain.
    For now, he doesn’t need the extra pleasure.
    For my money, Rio deserves it.
    Our best and most consistent player over the last two seasons, he’s the right age, has the experience and is English – which is at the very least a bonus (although not a necessity) as it helps a club keep its identity.

  6. Gary should retire now before he do any damage to the Squad and the only player to be captain is Rio Ferdinand and vise captain Rooney or Vidic.
    Many chances were given to him but he did many mistakes on the field and worst of all his lack of pace clearly proven. I still dont understand why Sir Alex has include him in the squad and not retire him. Scholes alsolack of ideas and pace and can only play for 30 mins at the most. Giggs is an inspiration to the squad and whenever the squad having difficulty in scoring he will come in to rescue.

  7. Ferdinand would be my choice, he seems to have matured an awful lot in recent years (even interviewing Gordon Brown!!). I agree that Rooney needs to grow up a bit. On the other hand, Rooney is the heart-beat of the team in a similar way to Terry at Chelsea and Gerrard at Liverpool, and will be captain eventually. It’s a very interesting question whether the maturing process would benefit from him being made captain. I think it probably would.

  8. Good blog and some very interesting comments.

    I’m sure (though I can’t find the source at present) that Fergie has already said Ferdinand will be the next captain due to seniority, if you think about it, it is probably the natural thing to do. I’m not saying we don’t have a leader in the side but we don’t have one player such as a Robson, Keane, Bruce or a Cantona, such is the evolution of the side.

    So of the four the blog suggests (and, incidentally, that would also be my first 4 picks), I’d say this –

    Rio – probably the natural successor, he’s already captain in absence of Neville and Giggs so not only would it make sense, it would probably cause unsettling to give it to someone else and may have a detrimental effect on his form.

    Vida – Has definitely cemented himself in the “Bruce” role, puts his head in front of flying feet, willing to get Brucey’s nose from flying elbows, had he been at the club for as long as Rio I would probably say Vidic is the more natural leader but as it is, Fergie could well have flipped a coin when deciding who to pick out of him and Rio.

    Ronaldo – Interesting one. I will sort of stray away from the point in order to paint the bigger picture here. This season’s Ronaldo is much like the one of two years ago, blistering wing play looking for the cross as much as a goal. Dare I say that his all round game in general is probably better than it was last season. He looks more cultured. Certainly would be a controversial choice but on the proviso that he would stay for the long term and influence the likes of Anderson, Nani and the Brazilian kids to stay at OT and fulfil their potential in making the next great United side, it could well be a risk worth taking. In reality the choice of Ronaldo and Rooney is probably the one for the next time the captaincy arises.

    Rooney – I think we’ve already discussed the possibility of Rooney being captain. Fergie obviously trusts him to do it as he has made him skipper in the past. I think Fergie would like to think that the captaincy would be the making of Rooney but I would agree with the general consensus that there is still at least one or two years maturity before he’s ready for the role full time.

    If he can knock out the rash challenges (and those that are made in retaliation) as well as maybe cut out some of the more colourful language then he could well be a contender. What I will say in his defence is that he doesn’t really do the language any more than a Gerrard or a Terry, but the media spotlight generally tends to focus more on United players for misdemeanours (take for example the circumstances of Evra’s recent ban, and Gerrard’s recent misbehaviour). Having said that, it is precisely for this reason why Rooney has to show more discipline.

    In regards players loyalty in the case of relegation – with all due respect, out of any of our younger players, I would say Rooney would be the most likely to stay. However could you really expect any player of that calibre to want to miss out on at least 2 seasons of Champions League football? Football is a different game to how it was 15 years ago.

    Finally, in defence of Neville (ManU’s comment). I don’t think he’s the liability you make him out to be. Yes, in the wake of Rafael’s emergence, Neville’s decline is apparent, however, he is still reliable (see Chelsea game) and is far better a back up than any other team has in the league. Plus, you have the guarantee of a full blooded red giving 100% for the cause in every game. Yes he may not be the marauding full back of 10 years ago but he has tons of experience that could (and probably will) make a telling contribution by the end of the season.

  9. Just to elaborate on my Ronaldo point – I was illustrating his all round play as an indicator to why he might made a good captain rather than a year ago when, as brilliant as he was, he seemed single minded.

    The other point I was going to make is that making your star player captain sometimes has a negative effect.

    For examples, see Henry, Thierry.

  10. When you’re talking about captains… then you need the players that shows something extra… The one that has that in abundance is Rooney. Vida and Rio should be vice-captains. Rio doesn’t have the ability… maybe vida and ronaldo, but ronaldo has to prove his loyalty.

    Keano did what Rooney can do and utd has never been as succesful as with him skippering… rooney is more talented so things are looking good:)

    I love Nev, but he is a liability… no doubt in my mind at least… he should step down now and officially hand over his responsibilities to brown and rafael… rio for then captaincy…. rooney next year.
    Giggs has surprised me a lot, but he’s not good enough to be a starter vs the big teams, but vs bolton and so on he is perfect.
    I’m very unsure about scholes after his latest comeback, but he definitely deserves time and a further few years…

  11. In my humble opinion:

    Pro’s – Young, Inspirational, committed, Utd till he retires, could mature him
    Con’s – Hot Headed, Striker (usual problem of being unable to see game all of what’s going on in the game like Center backs can), Scouse accent may be difficult to understand when handing out team orders

    Pro’s – Best Defender in the World, Intelligent (well for a footballer), Very experienced
    Con’s – As a captain he may no longer be able to do his You been Rio’d/Punk’d programme

    Pro’s – Hard as nails. Anyone who doesn’t listen to his orders will get the Serbian kiss.
    Con’s – Couple more years, will prob be a great choice

    Pro’s – A Utd stalwart. A reward for all his substitute appearances
    Con’s – HE would have to play every game

    Pro’s – To ‘do an Arsene Wenger’ and give the captaincy to your best player in a pathetic attempt to ward off Spanish suitors……..not Fergie’s style though.
    Reduce some of his Egotistical tendancies (but god love him, CR7 is a genius)
    Con’s – “Boy’s, as captain my orders to you are just to give the ball to me. I will do the rest…”. Not a bad tactic though!


    No one has mentioned anything about Gary staying on as captain…..I think he may up his game and we will see the Gary of old


    How about an article on “Best v Ronaldo – Who is the greatest Utd dribbler” ??

  12. SauceH – Get it right pal, Rio “merks” people.. oh the cringe inducing shame of it all!

    Would you really place Best and Ronaldo as the best dribblers United have had?

    Ronaldo has amazing skill and technique and can humilate a defender but in terms of pure dribbling ability I wouldn’t say he’s as gifted as Best or Giggs.. some might even argue Kanchelskis was as good as Ronaldo is (at pure dribbling, not overall, that’s crazy), while older fans might have a shout for Johnny Aston.

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