Lack of options for the armband at Old Trafford.
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Wayne Rooney has gone public about wanting to be named the new Manchester United captain following this summer’s departure of Nemanja Vidic, and while he remains far from ideal, there are a worrying lack of alternatives for new manager Louis van Gaal to choose from.
The 28-year-old is a long-serving member of United’s first-team (only youth-team graduates Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans have been there longer), but for some time now he has looked like a player past his best, without that same competitive spark that used to make him such a joy to watch in his younger years.
As well as that, the England international has twice tried to engineer moves away from Old Trafford with the intention of signing for rivals Manchester City and later Chelsea.
This is a player with a track record of getting disgruntled easily, and who looks to jump ship when doing so.
All these qualities combined mean he could be potentially a disastrous candidate for the armband, while his waning on-pitch contribution means he would perhaps only be an option for the next two or three years at most.
But then who else is there for United? Speculation suggests that van Gaal is leaning towards his fellow countryman Robin van Persie, whom he also selected as skipper during his time in charge of the Dutch national side.
Van Persie has also been captain of Arsenal, if only for one season, and certainly demonstrates more fire in his performances than Rooney at the moment, even if he doesn’t come across as the most natural leader.
A passionate personality and an excellent player, van Persie looks a slightly better choice for United. Though once again, he is not a long-term option due to his age.
The Netherlands international will turn 31 this August, and his fitness record throughout his career suggests he may not be one that carries on playing at the top level for very long.
Still, a short-term approach before giving the armband to a more long-term option such as Phil Jones or Luke Shaw might not be the worst idea, with the two promising youngsters still far too early into their United careers to be considered serious candidates for the moment.
But with van Persie leading the side for a few years, perhaps someone else will be ready to step up in the near future.
It remains a fact, however, that this captaincy issue highlights a more concerning issue for United as the new season approaches: a club that for so long was about stability, with a long-serving manager and players such as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes committing their entire playing careers to the club, there was a strong sense of continuity and identity that may now be lost.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Scholes retired last summer, with Giggs hanging up his boots this year.
Following them out are long-serving defenders Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, leaving the troubled Rooney alongside bit-part players Fletcher and Evans as the longest serving members of the squad.
The appointment of a top class manager in van Gaal should help smooth things along, as should the appointment of Giggs as his assistant, but it looks as though this sudden flurry of change may prove too much too quickly for United.