Wayne Rooney has been confirmed as the new captain of Manchester United; a decision which is not universally welcomed by supporters.
There is little doubt that the England international remains an integral part of the Reds line-up, and he is sure to play a key role in their quest to bounce back from a disappointing seventh-place finish last season. Qualification for the UEFA Champions League, a competition he excelled in when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side triumphed in 2008, is the bare minimum for the 20-time league champions, and their chances of achieving this are better served with the 28-year-old in the line-up.
However, allowing him to wear the armband by Nemanja Vidic has not been welcomed by all at Old Trafford. It wasn’t that long ago when Rooney asked to leave the club, citing a lack of ambition as his reason. At the time, it was widely reported that he wanted to join none-other than Manchester City, and he was only convinced to stay in the red half of town when he was handed a new contract worth around £250,000-per-week.
He later explained that doubting the ambition of the most successful club of the past two decades was one of the biggest mistakes of his career, yet this didn’t prevent him once more seeking a transfer last summer. By this time he had fallen out with Ferguson, and although the Scot had then been replaced by David Moyes, it was thought that the striker wanted to link up with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea despite the fact that prolonging his time with United would likely see him close on Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time goalscoring record.
Again, he was persuaded to stay. Last season wasn’t his finest, yet hardly anyone performed for United as they finished in their lowest league position since the inception of the Premier League. Under Louis van Gaal everyone has been given a clean slate at Old Trafford, and although the Dutchman was expected to turn to compatriot Robin van Persie, he confirmed that Rooney would be given the captaincy following Vidic’s free transfer to Internazionale.
“For me it’s always very important the choice of captain,” van Gaal told the official club website. “Wayne has shown a great attitude towards everything he does. I have been very impressed by his professionalism and his attitude to training and to my philosophy. He is a great inspiration to the younger members of the team and I believe he will put his heart and soul into his captaincy role.”
As for Rooney, it appears as though his desire for a move away from Old Trafford has vanished. The former Everton youngster added: “It is a huge honour for me to be named captain of this great club. It is a role I will perform with great pride. I am very grateful to the manager for the faith he has shown in me. I look forward to leading the team out on Saturday at our first match of the new season.”
On the face of it, Rooney the player was perhaps the obvious choice for captain. Van Persie is three years older and has often struggled with injuries, and in all honesty, there aren’t that many other candidates in the existing squad. But after his past dalliances with rival clubs could mean he will have to produce the campaign of his lifetime to be accepted by the fans in the way previous captains such as Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, Steve Bruce and Vidic were.