It won’t be this month and it might not be this summer but it finally seems as though Wayne Rooney’s time at Manchester United is winding down.
He’s been United’s worst performer of the past three seasons, with the exception of Marouane Fellaini, and yet has retained not only a starting place but also his status as captain. When he does make his overdue exit, attentions will turn to appointing a successor for the coveted role.
We’ve examined some of the club’s options, ranking them in descending order of likelihood. We’re excluding Michael Carrick as he seems set to leave the club along with Rooney.
Far and away the frontrunner the role in the long-term, the Frenchman could be viewed as too young if Rooney was to move on this year. His leadership qualities have been obvious ever since he emerged in the academy. When United have found themselves in tough spots, the £89 million man has stepped up, most notably coming up with the winner against Middlesbrough.
Ander Herrera has always displayed an almost Patrice Evra-like love for the club and its heritage that quickly endeared him to the fans and is one of very few that is guaranteed a starting spot, a quality crucial to a captaincy. He’s emerged this campaign as one of Mourinho’s most indispensable charges and has, like Pogba, been superb when the Reds have found themselves in trouble.
It would be a massive surprise if anyone but the aforementioned pair was handed the armband upon the Scouse striker’s departure. But if the club did decide to look elsewhere, there are few better options than Bailly.
The Ivorian has proven himself to be a brilliant find since his arrival and will surely be a mainstay in the United backline for years to come but still just 22, he could be overlooked due to concerns over his inexperience.
David De Gea
A far more experienced candidate, the Spanish stopper has a genuine claim for the captaincy after racking up almost 200 appearances for the Reds. He’s not as vocal as others on this list but with his standing in the world game, he would unquestionably command respect from his teammates.
Prior to Pogba’s arrival and Herrera’s emergence, one would have imagined Smalling was a shoo-in for the job. However, his level of performance has dipped massively and, after having the gall to break his toe, fell out with the Special One in November. He’s remained the third in command at Old Trafford but it’s now very difficult to envisage the Englishman succeeding Rooney.
Rory Murphy, Pundit Arena