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We Need A Quick Fix – Why Rooney MUST Be Captain

Wayne Rooney Captain Manchester UnitedFollowing Sunday’s defeat to City, I still don’t feel able to express my views on the game or our players in a controlled manner without emotion overspilling and anger erupting, so excuse me for not going in to a great deal of detail where the match is concerned. However, in light of Arsenal’s victory over Blackburn last night, taking their lead at the top to five points, it is certain United have several problems they need to address.

All sorts of excuses or reasons can be given to the spineless display we were subjected to at the weekend, but words can’t attest this worrying slump we are currently going through, and action needs to be taken.

We have been without Gary Neville all season and whilst Wes Brown is a more than capable stand in, what he makes up for in ability he lacks in leadership qualities. He may come close to replacing Neville technically, but we are seriously missing a proper captain. A captain who leads us from the front and drives us onwards when we need a kick up the arse.

Ryan Giggs, who shared the responsibility with Neville last season after his injury in March, has stood in as captain all season, and if we’re honest, gives us nothing. In terms of performances, Giggs has had a mixed season so far, sometimes providing us with the extra edge and experience we are in desperate need of, and other times showing himself as a player who is unmotivated and past it. But in terms of his performances as captain, they are all the same, he is substandard. That is not a slight on him, but a criticism of the manager, who insists on giving Giggs the armband simply because he is our longest serving player, not because he possesses the qualities needed of a captain.

Whilst Rooney is still in my bad books for diving against Spurs and therefore missing derby day when we really needed him, I can’t deny his importance to our team. It is because of his importance that I’m not too happy with him at the moment, because I am all too aware of what a difference he makes to our club.

United have lost four games in the league so far this season, twice against City (shudder) as well as Bolton and West Ham away, and Rooney wasn’t playing in any of them. Of course you can find stats to prove whatever you want but these are stats that I think have a lot of truth behind them. It’s not just a coincidence that United don’t have the grit and determination to beat a team that we really should be beating when Rooney isn’t on the park.

Rooney is currently suffering a goalscoring slump which has attracted a lot of attention from the media. Fortunately for United, for the most part, Cristiano Ronaldo has been stealing the show, scoring for fun, with Tevez doing his fair share in front of goal, meaning United haven’t been struggling too much. What has Rooney been doing whilst his team mates have been scoring? Working his arse off for the team.

We are more fortunate than we know to have a worker like Rooney in our team. Despite being played as the spearhead of our attack for the majority of the season, due to the injury prone Louis Saha, Rooney can be spotted all over the pitch. He picks up the ball from his own half and plays it up to someone on the wing. He sprints back to where a full back should be to win back the ball and prevent a break from the opposition. He always gives 100%. He always tracks back. He always tries.

The effect of Wayne Rooney isn’t just the individual impact he has on our result, but the impact he has on the team as a whole. To have someone on the field showing you how to approach every game, showing it is possible to work your bollocks off for 90 minutes, has nothing but positive effects on our team.

Aside from the defeat we suffered at the council house, our losses this season have come following gutless performances. Lack of motivation, lack of urgency, and lack of desire. With Rooney on the field, whether he is having a good game or not, our players cannot fall victim of these bad qualities, because Rooney will be setting the right example as a worker, and they should follow suit.

Winning the title this year is no longer in our hands, which I find absolutely incredible considering the players we have. It is Arsenal’s to throw away and if we want to be there to pick up the pieces if Arsenal do stutter, things need to change dramatically.

So please Fergie, give Rooney the armband. If it is possible, it will make him work even harder for the team and will highlight to the rest of the team how they should be performing. If/when Neville returns, then of course he should be reinstated as captain, but until then, let Rooney lead out our team.

Rooney for 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. Sam says:

    I completely agree with you, but I thought you were a Rio for captain man?

    His performance on Sunday must have put you off, and I don’t blame you. This was the Rio-I’m-not-really-sure-where-I-am-Ferdinand sort of performance we thought he’d grown out of.

    Rooney is the key to our team- I would argue that he’s more important than Ronaldo.

  2. Scott the Red says:

    Sam, I won’t judge Rio based on one game (fortunately for him, because he was SHITE on Sunday! lol) and I think he probably is going to be the long term replacement captain, but right now, we need a serious kick up the arse, and I think Rooney is more capable of doing that than Rio.

    And I think he is certainly more important than Ronaldo. You can always get another player who scores you goals. Replacing what Rooney gives us would be far more difficult.

  3. TABauge says:

    Rooney is the man for the job. We really need a captain again!!

  4. JLC says:

    Weird — I came to this exact same conclusion this morning in the shower. Rooney for captain, absolutely.

  5. denton davey says:

    Agree that Giggs is just too “nice” to be captain; plus, of course, he’s getting close to being a spent-force. He’s now reached the stage in his illustrious career where he should be on the bench, ready to be a last 20-minute sub but not a starter.

    “Rooney needs to control his temper; Ronaldo needs to control his frustration; Rio needs to stay focussed.” Those are fairly standard responses which we hear all the time and there’s more than a grain of truth in them, too.

    Rooney for captain – if he can control that temper (and his vile language) then YES ! Until then, NOT YET. The “arc” Rooney’s career seems to me to be rather similar to that of Roy Keane, who was a very loudmouthed agitator in his early days but settled down to become a forceful advocate just like RedNev. When Wayne can reach that level of maturity then he would be a perfect captain for our team. since his passion is unparalleled (well, unparalleled since Keane-o and RedNev).

  6. Sid P says:

    Rooney will now doubt be given the armband in a few years, but currently he isn’t mature enough to be given that type of responsibility. We don’t want another Terry leading the team do we? Rooney’s always going to give 110%, that’s just the way he plays. Captain or no captain, Rooney will always be Rooney. The captain has to be more then just a hardworker…he has to lead by example, not just in terms of how he plays on the pitch but also how he interacts with the media and teammates.

    Right now we need Rooney to rediscover his goalscoring form. A striker has more pressure then any other player on the pitch, so to saddle the young man with the burdens of leading the team isn’t prudent in my opinion. I wish we had a leader in the midfield, but we don’t (except perhaps Scholes who doesn’t have the personality to lead). For the time being, the captaincy should be given to either Rio or Giggs…it’s not ideal, but experimenting with the young Rooney isn’t the solution either.

  7. pet says:

    Yes he can be our captain, but he should learn to play as man and be more responsible bear in mind that he is our match maker, I just wonder whether making him a captain will make him stay out of bookings and send offs

  8. Patrick says:

    I wrote a post this morning that, in part, discussed the similarities between the problems that SAF and Wenger have faced this season. Both have a plethora of talent in midfield and both have had captaincy issues. In both cases Wenger has made the difficult decision, doing what’s best for the side and egos be damned. Gilberto Silva has been the victim of both decisions, losing out on playing time and the captaincy. One of Arsenal’s best players last year and the heir apparent to the Captaincy, going in other directions on both accounts was bold by Wenger. One can’t question the positive effects of those decisions, as Arsenal stand five points clear. SAF and the team must now make similar decisions, decide on a first team midfield pairing and make Rooney the captain.

  9. yip says:

    totallly agree ! rooney is only man be captain our club and england ,you can miss ronlado ,you can miss gerrard but you can’t miss rooney on the ground.

  10. spiritof1983 says:

    I am a Ferdinand next for captaincy advocate. Barring Sunday’s shocker, he has been one of the most consistent performers in the team this season. However he is already a leader in defense, even when Neville was present and even more so now. So the armband change to him isn’t going to do anything much to improve his game nor send a strong message to the rest of the team, other than to Giggs.

    A message should be sent as the team, who despite many good results isn’t achieving the fluency as before. They have performed in other ways to compensate, yet are found out in high intensity and tempo games typically. This is especially so in the case of Giggs (and Ronaldo). One of them has to be dropped as we can’t afford both on the pitch in these sorts of games with the fullback cover we have. Even Evra hasn’t been as good as last season. In other matches Giggs still brings better composure to the attack and sees the opening better than anyone else.

    I would remove the armband from Giggs to send this message to him and the team.

    Rooney had done fairly well as captain of the team against Roma away and I think he will behave better and mature more with the armband. In fact it will invigorate him more to get back to playing better. I don’t think it is too much of an addition of pressure. He probably had and has that from Capello observing him constantly and making changing in the England squad. More importantly he is the right candidate to send a message that we need more Rooney-like effort throughout the team, not just in work rate but also in teamwork. This message would also be well received by the fans that are starting to cast doubts and we will need it as we step into the business end of the season.

    I agree with picking a settled central midfield. I would also think with shortage of striking options, we utilize 5-man midfield in whatever form at some stages in games to conserve the two we have.

  11. tinzweishe says:

    What about Anderson our best player at the moment(play maker) just judge the youngster’s abilities

  12. Sam says:

    tinzweishe, erm, Anderson is fantastic, granted, but captain?!

    I don’t even know if he speaks the language yet..

  13. denton davey says:

    Last year, ACRoma lost it’s s rikers to injury and Spalletti went with a six-man midfield – a change that led to their best run of play of the season until they came to OT and were demolished 7-1.

    I still want an out-and-out central striker to complement our six-man midfield;

    On the issue of captain – I can’t see SAF “stripping” Giggs; I can see RedNev coming back to reclaim the armband before the end of the season. And, in the summer ? a new dawn will arise – possibly Rio for a few years since he certainly has the on-field presence and who really knows any more about him ?

  14. franky says:

    Wayne can become captain the day he doesn’t take stupid cards anymore. He never should have dived, having the City game in mind, and today’s yellow was another stupidity.

    Get over it, Rio is the perfect person to be our next skipper. And when Rio ends his career, it will be Rooney.

    Like it or not but Rooney’s warrior spirit, no matter how many times he has saved us (thinking of the Villa game as most present remembrance) he is too young and too impulsive. We need no Terry-alike behaviour, give the lad some time to grow.

  15. franky says:

    *warrior spirit is not enough

    Addendum: ManUtd is a squad maintaining a high Fair Play level, few cards (at least 3 cards this year were unjustified (the only red card we got was unjustified). Rooney is one of our main card collectors.


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