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After Cantona and Keane, Captain Rooney is Obvious

It’s been a while since I’ve had a “favourite player”. By favourite, I mean the player who you defend until you’re blue in the face (regardless of their wrong doings), the player you could watch for hours on end, the player you admire and brag about in equal amounts. It seems a pretty childish thing to set apart one player in the team from the rest. Ryan Giggs was probably my last favourite player, before I outgrew such a phrase. “Who’s your favourite player?” we’d ask each other at school, and argue over which player was the best.

Now, I find myself regressing slightly, and have to admit I have returned to my school day ways of proclaiming a player as my favourite. Wayne Rooney. I just bloody love that lad. Yes ok ok, so he’s got a hot temper (which is improving with years), he’s got a foul mouth, and I can see that both these things upset the country (although not a lot is said when England captain John Terry is effin and blindin at the ref), but I can’t help but love him.

In my years as a United fan, arguably the best two players I’ve come across are Eric Cantona and Roy Keane. They both had hot tempers, they both had vision, and they both inspired our team to go out to do great things. When Cantona lead the team out, his team mates wanted to impress him, wanted their football to resemble something close to the level of Cantona’s. When Keane was on the field, he created a strong will and desire to win amongst the players, never settling for second best, whether we were playing the worst or best team in the league. Yes, they’d both lose their head every now and again, unable to control their emotions and actions when someone was having a pop. Does the passion they possessed make a great player? No, but quite possibly that passion has to come hand in hand with great players. Both of them strived for perfection, but in different ways. Cantona wanted to play dazzling football, wanted to score beautiful goals, whilst Keane wanted to get the job done every time he played, wanted 100% commitment in every pass, every tackle, every shot. Their reigns as captains saw their team complete utter dominance over the Premier League, and for all the criticism they have faced, every fan wanted them in their team.

Now, for all the complaining about Rooney there is, we rarely see him swipe out at other players, or intentionally go out to hurt them. He’ll happily stick it to a referee who he doesn’t agree with, but is extremely infrequent that a violent streak comes out in him. Yet the media get on his case, building him up and ripping him down again on what seems to be a fortnightly basis. He’s a thug one week, a genius the next, a lout one match, a saviour the next. Whilst Keane and Cantona saw their behaviour scrutinised more fiercely because they played for Manchester United, Rooney has the added pressure of playing for England.

Whilst Rooney is still only young, I can see parts of both Cantona and Keane in him. He loves to play beautiful and creative football, scoring superb goals for us, and playing the perfect pass to set up others. He has that fighting nature in him, he always wants to play, he always wants to win, and he will run himself ragged to do so. He strives for perfection, in both the skilful play we see on the field, and his desire to win and be the best.

With the ever apparent demise of our current captain, Gary Neville, the discussion of who should be our next captain has been rife amongst United fans. The obvious choice has to be Rio Ferdinand, who takes the armband when Neville and Giggs aren’t playing. I’m not his biggest fan but can acknowledge he makes a good captain. I believe there should be more shouts for Hargreaves and Vidic than there has been. But one player who always comes up in the discussion is Rooney. He’s definitely been lined up, by United fans at least, as the future United captain, and quite rightly too.

Ahead of United’s pointless Champions League clash with Roma on Wednesday, the speculation that Ferguson will field a second string team has been confirmed today. With the dippers game on Sunday, Ferguson wants our team to be fresh, and after confirming top spot already with five wins out of five, there is no need to play our first teamers. The likes of Fletcher, O’Shea, Carrick and Saha, who have had limited time on the field so far this season, will be started, alongside Chris Eagles, Danny Simpson, Gerard Pique and Johnny Evans. It should be a nice evening out for the lads, wracking up another Champions League appearance to their stats, and hopefully a good result for them.

Whilst this team selection was predicted, the inclusion of Rooney wasn’t one we anticipated. Although it could be argued that after recently returning from injury, he could do with more game time under his belt, it would have appeared normal for him to remain in Manchester. However, Rooney hasn’t travelled to Rome as just a United player, he’s gone as the United captain. “He has been pestering me for quite a while now, so I have given in,” said Ferguson.

It is great to see one of our young players so eager to captain our club. Whilst he should have a long career ahead, I can’t imagine Rooney moving on to any other team, which is something he has previously stated, and his determination to get the captain’s armband helps emphasise this. As we sing in retaliation to the opposition, it’s “once a blue, always a Red” in the case of Rooney. I think it will be marvelous practice for him, managing his emotions whilst still finding the passion to drive the team forward. It is a great experience and one I am happy to see Ferguson bestow on him whenever possible.

So just look at Cantona and Keane, two great United captains and leaders, who drove us to victory and success time and again. Then look at Rooney, future United captain, who I hope will have exactly the same effect.

Do you want Rooney as our future captain?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Taehr says:

    Yea rooney has all the atributes to become a great captain.and he isnt scared to tell you what he thinks.

  2. Alex says:

    Great article!

  3. Ayo says:

    Rooney has the attributes to be a great captain. He is a warrior. I think Rio shd b the next captain but Rooney shd b his assistant and shd take over from him when he finishes!!!

  4. Rooney on march says:

    Best United article i’ve read in a while, no bullshit, just a well documented opinion written well. Bravo.

  5. romeo says:

    I agree!Rooney always plays with his lion heart(Even for England ironically), and you can see him shout at refs and players when he is unhappy. I have even seen him shout at elder players so many times. These are qualities Cantona and Keano had. In the next few years he will be captain, I am sure of that and no matter how much other teams want to cash in he will not leave Manu unless the latter decide to get rid of him. I admire his courage and pity those who criticise him because he is undoubtebly the best English player of this generation.

  6. KingOfZamunda says:

    ROONEY!!!!!!! SCOTT THE RED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Rohit says:

    I guess Rio will be skipper once Gary and Giggs are done with their respective playing careers.
    Not in the immediate future,but Rooney will certainly become United skipper one day.He has got all the attributes that are required to become captain.His never say die attitude for one.No matter what,he is always going to give the team a 100% when he is out there.Seeing him play,the players around him are bound to get inspired.
    I would love to see Wayne become captain one day!:)

  8. Sagar says:

    Good read!
    Next captain wil b rio with rooney 2 deputise when needed and take over when rio hangs his boots!

  9. myo says:

    i m not agree tat rio d be 1 captain.he is not such lionhearted,but roo is.he s got x-factor to be a captain.

  10. michael says:

    i think you have a big point. great stuff

  11. busingye says:

    rooney,no.the man should mature about ronaldo?the man who singlehandedly won us the league,who captains portugal,who plays with such desire.we are over that madman captain tendency.a captain should lead by example not coz he is english or you want us to have a raul captaining zidane?like in madrid?ronaldo should be captain.

  12. Tom says:

    I’d nominate Rooney over Ronaldo. As awesome as Ronaldo is I still get the impression he plays as much for himself as the team. Rooney is one of the most selfless forwards I have ever seen. Totally committed to the team and its success. Ronaldo is selfish, which is great as it makes him so good but not an attribute I want for a captain.

  13. busingye says:

    Tom,thats the bias am talking about.the man leads in goals and is he selfish?how does he play for himself?has he brought his girlfriend in the limelight? he launching aftershave?no.sometimes he has to carry the team on his shoulders.i mean shoot.without him our team is crap,but without rooney we can cope.thats a leader to me.captain.rooney is selfless but have u realised he has remained a prospect after all these years?can u mention him among the best twenty players in europe?hardly.on the other hand ronaldos maturity has made him the best player in the world.dont get me wrong i love rooney but maybe pampering him has stagnated his career.

  14. ricardo says:

    but, he is lacking something,may be the so called x-factor(coolness). sometime u can sense ability of someone by looking at his physical appearance and action.i like only the football skill of ronaldo,but not his action he had done in the past,especially his over-acting.

  15. myo says:

    but he doesn`t have something (coolness) which cantona did possess.i don`t like his over-acting which let him down and which is not the character of a true leader.

  16. myo says:

    but i admires his ability on football.he is our wings. we need him to reach such far.


  1. [...] of Wayne, Republic of Mancunia has a thoughtful piece on Rooney as a future captain of United. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far to say it is obvious, but if at the time there wasn’t a [...]


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