Michael Carrick is reportedly set to be named as the next Manchester United captain, with the people’s choice Ander Herrera named as vice-captain. Carrick may be the sensible choice, but sensible is boring. Our writers made alternative picks for the captaincy.
All footballing captains fall between two militaristic stereotypes: the General and the Lieutenant. The Generals — players like Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, and Eric Cantona — are those who take matches and bend them to their indomitable will. They dictate, they inspire, and through their dominant brilliance they elevate the team around them.
Lieutenants, on the other hand, do as they're told, and by so doing they transmit the personality of the manager to the pitch.
It's no secret that while there's a lot of talent in this United squad, there's a little bit of a deficit when it comes to dominant personalities. Ander Herrera is busy but lacks stature, Paul Pogba is brilliant but has only just come back to the club, and Eric Bailly is still a little young. So in the absence of a General, we must look to a Lieutenant. Somebody who will take a job, and try their utmost. Somebody who lacks the imagination to do otherwise. Somebody who will do as they are told.
Somebody like, in other words, Marouane Fellaini.
You can keep your complaints about his lack of talent. You can stick your protestations about United's grand historical lineage. Of all the players in United's squad, the most lieutenantly is Fellaini, a player who devotes all of his being to the job he is given. He is not the same flavour of inspirational as Cantona or Keane; he does not stir the spirit or rouse the soul. But he goes out there and he has his instructions and, goddamn it, he tries to follow them.
Not well, sometimes. Not usefully, often. But this is Mourinho-land, now. Effort and fealty are the new pillars of our existence. And Fellaini, though he may have nothing else, has them both. Plus he has an almost debilitating addiction to elbowing Manchester City players, which the Busby Babe must condemn unequivocally. Put that out of your mind. Forget we ever said anything. And give the armband to man with the best chest control in world football. Long it goes, and down it comes, and ... oh, it's a throw in. Again. AT.
The argument for Marcos Rojo is perhaps even flimsier than that for Fellaini, but never let it be said that we don’t lack imagination here at tBB. Exhausting all bases so José Mourinho doesn’t have to.
Admittedly, Rojo scores high on the patented Buffoonery Scale, though he embodies the never-say-die attitude that you need of a captain. It’s not the job of the skipper to be particularly sensible, nor to be the best player on the team; instead — whether by intimidation or example — they have to coax maximum commitment from the players that surround them.
Rojo — at least until he’s angling a sliding challenge in your vague direction — isn’t a particularly scary character, but he certainly does lead by example. We can’t imagine him giving a rousing dressing room speech, nor can we imagine him strangling Anthony Martial for refusing to track back. But we know for a fact that he can be relied upon to go down fighting, with a lionhearted spirit for which there’s always room on every team.
Okay, okay, we know it’s not really going to happen. We’re not even really convincing ourselves here. But let’s be honest, it’d be a more entertaining choice than Michael Carrick. JS.
In the world of entertainment, shameless fan service is frowned upon by critics. The more sophisticated among us say that giving the people exactly what they think they want is nothing more than simply catering to the lowest common denominator. Well, to hell with that. Sometimes, the best answer is the simplest one.
United fans love Ander Herrera. He’s a good, if not great, player. He’s bright, seems to understand the culture of the club, is a bit football mad, and puts himself about on the pitch. He talks and points nonstop on the pitch, which may well do nothing more than annoy his teammates, but it shows that he he has some leadership qualities within him, or at least the qualities to do a passing imitation of a leader.
Do the players in the dressing room like him? The Spanish speakers do, at least, so that’ll do for now. Does the manager trust him? He was one of the mainstays of the team last season, and if there’s one manager who appreciates a healthy dose of snideness, it’s José Mourinho. Does he command the respect of opponents? Definitely not, as he has a penchant for shithousing, and there’s probably no shortage of players around the league who’d like to spark him out.
But more importantly than all of that, the people have decided that Ander Herrera should be United’s next skipper. And if there’s one thing that history has taught us, it’s that a large body of people has never fairly and democratically made a huge mistake. Vox populi, vox dei. BM.
Who should be Manchester United’s next captain?
This poll is closed