For the last few seasons Manchester United have lacked passion. They have lacked passion from the manager and they have lacked passion from the players. Only now, under José Mourinho, are they starting to show a little of the old commitment and desire.
David Moyes may have been a fiery Scot but he was overawed by the players at Manchester United because they had won much more than he had and there was little, if anything, he could teach them.
Louis van Gaal was too much the other way. Brash, conceited and arrogant are just three words that spring immediately to mind when describing the Dutchman. His best days had come and gone by the time Ed Woodward pressed the panic button and brought him to Old Trafford. In fairness he was passionate, but mainly about himself and how good he was and how everybody should listen to him. He lasted two seasons and won an FA Cup while in charge of United.
The players don’t come out of it in a much better light, particularly the captains.
Wayne Rooney, the current captain, even though he can’t get in the team, has spent much of the last five years out of form and being offered new contracts due to his propensity for toys-out-of-pram throwing. He would be in the running for world champion if this was an Olympic event.
He is also far too quiet on the field and the notion that captains lead by example in their play is nonsense. Players need shouting at and cajoling if the best is to be brought out of them, particularly when the team is not playing well.
Michael Carrick, the vice-captain, is also not a regular starter although he is currently on a decent run of games. Another one who is much too quiet and doesn’t command the pitch as all good captains do, he is similar in personality to Rooney and is never seen getting riled or losing his temper.
Where is Manchester United’s equivalent of John Terry, Roy Keane or even Mike Doyle from the other half of Manchester? These were passionate players who loved their clubs and went into EVERY match as though it was a battle to the end. Losing only became an option after the final whistle and then it was grudgingly accepted and the team moved on.
Well, Manchester United do have a passionate, lead-by-example and shout-at-anyone-within-earshot type of player. What may be surprising is that he isn’t British. He has all the “British Bulldog” traits and yet he is Spanish.
The Spanish Bulldog is Ander Herrera who, since José Mourinho’s arrival, has been given the chance he has always deserved and has taken it with both hands. He is now one of the first names on the teamsheet in the big games and, in fairness, most games are big games when you are Manchester United.
He is a natural for the captaincy and don’t be too surprised if José Mourinho is thinking along similar lines.
Wayne Rooney, with a little luck, will leave United in the Summer and a new captain will be chosen. Michael Carrick is on a year long contract which is not guaranteed to be renewed so his role as vice-captain is also possibly up for grabs.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an obvious candidate for captain but his long term is most other player’s short term and so he wouldn’t necessarily be a good pick. Maybe vice-captain for next season would be a nice reward for his extra commitment.
Juan Mata would also be a decent choice. Nobody can deny his passion or commitment but he is a little too quiet on the pitch. Another who’s best role could be as vice-captain.
So there are a couple, if not more, stand-out candidates for the vice-captaincy. There is only one player in the frame for the captaincy as far as we here at WSA are concerned. Step forward and collect the armband Ander Herrera.