The Current Scenario
Harry Maguire was handed the captaincy at Manchester United after ex-captain Ashley Young left the club for Inter Milan in January’20. Just after 5 months of his arrival, the Englishman was given this huge responsibility of leading the team. After becoming the world’s most expensive defender, big things were expected of Maguire. He possesses all the attributes that we lacked in a CB. Being tall and someone who seemed unbeatable in aerial duels, Maguire on paper should be a rock-solid, consistent performer. Such players are expected to be natural leaders on the pitch. He did have a good start to life at the Greater Manchester outfit, earning the Man of the Match award on his debut in a 4-0 win against Chelsea.
However, we haven’t seen any of these qualities portrayed on the field from the 27-year old since he took over the captaincy. In fact, Maguire has become a mockery of a defender. From getting megged too easily, to fouling your own players to allow the opposition to score, Maguire is at fault for all this and more. I personally feel like he hasn’t settled in yet or established himself as a CB at Manchester United. It feels like he isn’t even ready to captain the side, marshall the backline or inspire players around him. He needs to be taken out of the line of fire.
A captain has to be a consistent performer for the team, someone who leads by example. A captain should fight for his teammates, to inspire his teammates and to set the bar for the players around him. Let’s have a look if our potential candidates possess these qualities.
Candidates For Captaincy
David de Gea
De Gea has been serving Manchester United for almost 10 years now. He has been one of the most important players for us in the post-Fergie Era. De Gea has been talismanic and at times, has single-handedly won us matches. The Spaniard has been the recipient of Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award thrice consecutively, the only player in the history of the club to do so. De Gea seems to be the ideal candidate for the captaincy as he possesses leadership qualities and being a GK, he’ll be in the best position to organise the team. In fact, I think he should’ve been the one to take the armband rather than Maguire.
But, even our most consistent performer’s confidence hit rock-bottom after a horrific 2018 World Cup campaign and those memories still seem to haunt him. He has struggled since then, making blaring errors on various occasions. The Spaniard seems to be getting better but at the moment he has to focus on his own game, with Dean Henderson breathing down his neck for the top spot. Giving him such a big responsibility could potentially affect his game.
Almost all of us would’ve come across a video featuring Paul Pogba giving an inspirational speech to the France squad before the World Cup 2018 Final. Pogba exuded leadership in that speech and inspired his team through great performances on the field throughout the campaign. He’s a world-class player and can win you a game all by himself, “on his day”.
Sadly, such glorious days have been numbered for the Frenchman in a Manchester United shirt. Pogba is certainly one of the best midfielders in the world but he has never been consistent at Old Trafford. The Frenchman became the club’s most expensive signing after coming back to United in 2016, but it’s safe to say he’s yet to justify that price tag.
The 27-year old has divided the fanbase into 2 factions – “PogStay” and “PogOut”. The rumours of him leaving Manchester United have been ever-present. The appointment of Solskjaer brought some positivity around the saga and there were positive talks of him signing a contract extension. But lately, his comments on him expressing his wish to play for Real Madrid have led to some discomfort among fans who want him to stay. It’s his inconsistency and the uncertainty around his long-term future is what stops him from competing for captaincy.
Marcus Rashford is a role model for upcoming youngsters and he’s an inspiration to a whole generation. No one needs to justify what all he has done for the needy. Rashford is a great human being and a lovable figure across the world. The 22-year old Manchester-born winger has been brought up through the academy ranks and no one understands the club and its values better than him. The Manchester United DNA has been inculcated in him. He would be one of the perfect candidates for captaincy.
The only problem with him being handed the armband is that he’s too young. One can argue that De Ligt was Ajax’s captain at the age of 18, but he was a settled figure in that team. Rashford is still trying to find that consistency and hit the levels he has set for himself on a regular basis. I personally feel he isn’t yet ready for the captaincy but certainly is one for the future.
Fernandes for the captaincy role is almost a no-brainer. The Portuguese Magnifico came in the January window and instantly lifted the whole team. He revitalised the whole squad and seemed to be able to push everyone to do better. Bruno was one of the prime reasons in United’s impossible push for the UCL spots. The workhorse midfielder is a natural leader on the pitch and is very vocal in the dressing room. Bruno comes into every game with a winning mentality and his sheer desire to win drives him even through his worst days.
People can argue that it’s been just 9 months since he came into the club but Maguire was given the armband sooner than that. The 26-year old possesses everything we need in a Manchester United captain. He’s consistent, he’s vocal, he’s a leader on the pitch, he pushes everyone to perform well and he leads by example. Bruno is one of the most charismatic players I’ve seen at Old Trafford in a long time.
The attacking-midfielder even portrays the characteristics of Roy Keane to some extent. He’s never shy of pointing out players, as we noticed in his spat with Lindelof in the match against Sevilla. Many reports suggest that Bruno came off at half-time against Spurs because of a huge dressing room spat with club captain, Harry Maguire. I personally support him for making such a bold move and making himself heard across the dressing room. I want players like that at my club. Someone who fights for the badge no matter what, and never gives up.