Wayne Rooney has been praised for his commendable captaincy at Manchester United by team-mates, management and outsiders alike, and rightfully so. After completing a decade at the club, Rooney’s determination to win the Premier League as a captain is strongly intact for the next season, thus engaging in a bid to inspire and motivate his men to focus only on the prize.
In fact, his temperament as captain has even caught United legend Bryan Robson’s eye, who said that this decision did not surprise him, and despite Rooney facing issues earlier resulting in being sent off, Robson stated Rooney has taken the captaincy decision in his stride and has done full justice to the role.
Once Moyes had left United, it was expected of Louis Van Gaal to give the captain’s armband to Robin Van Persie, after the World Cup, wherein RVP played that role extremely well. However, in the preseason games, Van Persie was unable to be present immediately due to the World Cup, and Darren Fletcher was given the responsibility. In the games against LA Galaxy, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, he donned the armband. The match against Roma saw Tom Cleverley assume the position as Fletcher did not play, and only in the last two matches against Valencia and Liverpool, Wayne Rooney was given the armband.
“For me it’s always very important the choice of captain. 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,” Van Gaal said at the time.
However, Van Gaal did not exactly have a wealth of options when it came to his squad for the captain’s position, if comparisons are drawn between the kind of players he has now to the kind it did a few years back. Rooney was the best choice in the full team and he has proved the same with the way he handled the team this season.
The decision was met with a lot of doubts and hesitation from the fans. That could be attributed to his very public admission of not feeling ambitious enough at the club and also his rumoured move to join arch rivals Manchester City in 2010. Following which, he lifted the 19th league trophy for Manchester United, so his claim did not really have much weight in it. He did release another statement later, mentioning how doubting the club was “the biggest mistake of his career” and then renewed his contract. There was another rumoured move to Chelsea, but Wayne Rooney has stayed on at Manchester United.
In the earlier days of this season, Rooney’s captaincy was questioned by the media and fans, especially because of the infamous game against Leicester. United were leading 3-1 but then Leicester won a controversial penalty and scored. Minutes later, Rooney lost the ball and the opponents assumed possession. In an attempt to do damage control, he let Cambiasso to get the ball back, who ended up scoring an own goal instead and helped Leicester equalize. Rooney directed all his anger at Tyler Blackett and made his frustration quite visible, and ultimately lost 5-3.
Somebody had to be blamed for the disastrous performances in the first few games and one of the people to take the fall was captain Wayne Rooney. There were reports earlier of him being unhappy in the midfield position, while RVP and Falcao played on the front. He admirably decided to not make further show of it and stuck to playing in the midfield.
Fortunately for all the Manchester United fans, the team’s form gradually improved and that can be attributed to Rooney’s captaincy and his influence on the team. Marouane Fellaini confirmed that Rooney gave a rather passionate speech in the dressing room before the match against Tottenham Hotspur. Fellaini claimed this “affected” the players and that it was “important” for them to hear what he had to say. Two weeks later, following the victory over Liverpool at Anfield, he said Rooney was a “great captain” and that “he knows how to talk to the players and to take responsibility”.
Post the 3-1 win against Aston Villa, even Herrera was all praises for Rooney as he said, “Wayne Rooney is our leader. He is maybe the strongest guy – not only physically, but also mentally. I think we in the squad are following him always. He is our captain, our leader and our character. I think he shows very, very well what Manchester United is.”
It remains to be seen how the Reds fare in the next season. At this point, Wayne Rooney seems determined enough to lift the trophy next season with his men backing him up. Will he succeed in doing so? Let’s wait and watch!