Manchester United haven’t had a proper captain and leader for years

When weighing up all of the great footballing teams, past or present, it is clear they all have one common factor, a team leader or a number of leaders. Think of any hugely successful side in any sport and it is obvious who the leader or leaders in that team are.

This definitely rings true for past Manchester United sides who have enjoyed highly successful periods. Most United sides of the Sir Alex Ferguson era were littered with leaders all over the pitch, players who had the ultimate commitment to the cause and were willing to do anything to see their team win. It is something the current United side lack. 

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Some would argue that since the departure of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in the summer of 2014 the club have been without real leaders that are worthy captain material. Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia have held the role of club captain since the duo had left, but in truth, none have managed to make the position their own.

Rooney’s best years had unquestionably past him when he was given the honour, and the armband seemed to be a burden to his game if anything, Carrick looked to be the obvious choice at the time, but injuries restricted his playing time and with retirement looming it was never really a long term option, while Valencia probably never warranted the role if truth be told, and was more than likely given the armband based solely on the length of time he had been at the club.

The honour of captaining United has almost become meaningless over the last few years, with a whole host of players having held the armband at various points, including the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young, a far cry from the days of Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Gary Neville having the honour.

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It is not just a problem for United though, many other clubs likewise are crying out for leaders, a group that are really in high demand but low quantity in the modern game. The managers of the club cannot be blamed however, when their options are limited as they have been in recent times.

United seem set for a fresh start under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he like the failed managers before him must choose a man to entrust with the armband now that the departure of Valencia looks imminent. There are certainly no standout candidates that are forcing Solskjaer’s hand at the minute, making the decision all the more difficult for the Norwegian.

Could one of the current crop of United players make the step up and become that leader that the team is currently crying out for, or will the board be forced to invest in a player with experience and real leadership qualities to fill the void? Either way, United could do with someone to take the captains armband and make the position their own for many years to come.

Written by Jack Grady

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