It was bound to happen. It always does with a new relationship. The first few months are like a fairytale, they draw you in and fill you with hope and before you know it you’re swept into a whirlwind romance showing no signs of letting up.
It wasn’t like this last time around. The last didn’t fill me with the confidence I needed to go forward, it wasn’t a walk in the park, there was no singing, dancing or shouting from the rooftops and to be honest, I just wasn’t happy. Needless to say it didn’t last. But I’ve got no regrets.
Things may have moved on quickly, but it feels so different this time. For 3 months now when they’ve spoken, I’ve listened tentatively, hanging on their every word. I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve shared and everything seems to be going from positive to positive. I’m blushing just thinking about it.
And then it happened…
It’s been 3 months now since his appointment as Manchester United manager, but I’ve had my first disagreement with Louis van Gaal.
After Tuesday night’s 2-1 friendly win over Valencia, the Dutchman announced to the World’s press who would be Manchester United’s new captain. The past names speak for themselves, Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic. All leaders. All who would leave everything on the field, and most importantly than anything, loved the club.
Van Gaal’s decision to appoint Wayne Rooney as the new captain wasn’t a surprise, given the lack of credible candidates in a much depleted squad, but instead a little bit of a disappointment.
I won’t fault Rooney in terms of work ethic or desire on the pitch, and you get the feeling that whether he was playing for Everton, United, England or even Macclesfield Town, Rooney’s desire to win would remain – an extremely important commodity in a skipper – but the feeling that lingers is more what could have been.
It’s been a decade now since Rooney signed from Everton as a raw teenage talent with the world at his feet. 443 appearances and 217 goals later he has now been appointed as our leader. A player with such experience in the squad should be a no brainer, yet Rooney’s appointment leaves a slightly sour taste, and that’s nothing to do with the fact that he’s a scouser.
Rooney’s relationship with the Old Trafford faithful is an indifferent one to say the least with his extensive appearances, goals and medal collection going nowhere close to telling the full story. The former Everton striker, could and should be the obvious choice for the armband, the focal point of the side and one of the most powerful weapons in our Arsenal. As it happens, two transfer requests followed by extreme wage hikes mean that Wayne is not particularly seen in the shining light he should be. He may have been ill-advised, had his head turned or thrown his toys out of the pram at having to occasionally play in a more withdrawn or wider role to accommodate others, but it’s traits like this which the club would not usually surrender to, and would surely rule him out of contention right? Wrong.
While the number of realistic candidates to replace Vidic were limited, I personally would have liked to have seen either Darren Fletcher or Jonny Evans be given the nod. Granted Rooney is the more likely to drive the team on and make things happen, but given their understanding of the club, good relationship with the fans and their more withdrawn positions on the field either of these two would be a good fit.
Fletcher has captained his country since 2009 now and before suffering his illness was becoming established as one of our most important players under Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Manchester derby in particular always seemingly bringing out the best in him. He looks to have made a full recovery now and while he may not be guaranteed a first team place every week under the new regime – particularly when Michael Carrick returns from injury – but giving him the club captaincy for instance would have meant appointing a player familiar with the club and the perfect role model for the rest of the squad. This would have enabled Rooney to perhaps have been offered vice-captaincy and still been able to take the armband on the field more often than not.
United have been able to boast some strong and influential skippers over the years as mentioned earlier, and being the main link between the manager and the dressing room and a role-model for the younger and more inexperienced players in the squad, Fletcher, for me fits the mould more so than Rooney.
Let it be noted Rooney is still a fine player and is hugely important to Manchester United, 19 goals and numerous assists in a largely disappointing season for the club are evidence of this.
But I digress, because the realisation that hit me is, my opinion on the matter is largely irrelevant, completely irrelevant in fact. The decision lies with one man and that’s Van Gaal. If he feels that Rooney is his man, the one he can trust and can get the best out of Rooney and the team then so be it.
Agree or disagree, Van Gaal has made his bed and my feeling’s towards Rooney’s appointment aside, I believe that the decision he makes will be the right one and for the best interests of the club. His past shows that he is not afraid to lock horns with big names and Rooney will certainly not be forgiven any future misdemeanors under his new boss and now has been presented with an opportunity to win over those remaining doubters.
Disagreement’s are an important part of any relationship, but it’s how you move on from them which is important, but if the last few months have taught me anything, it’s that I trust Van Gaal, in a way that I couldn’t trust Moyes. There, I said it, and I’m ready to move on. Hopefully off into the sunset.
The RoM 2017-18 Season Preview is available for just £5. It includes an EXCLUSIVE interview with Paul Scholes, a Q&A with the country's top journalists about our transfer targets, articles by brilliant United writers, and so much more. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.