Following 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?