After 8 trophy-laden years at Manchester United, club captain Nemanja Vidic has officially announced that he will be leaving the club this summer.
When fit, the Serbian centre-half was always one of the first names on former manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s team sheet as he amassed five Premier League medals and one Champion’s League title.
A fan-favourite, the tough-tackling defender’s exit will leave a gaping hole in the centre of United’s defence. Not only that but it also leaves Ferguson’s struggling successor David Moyes with a decision to make as to who will take over as Manchester United captain and follow in the footsteps of such illustrious names as Vidic, Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Bryan Robson, to name but a few.
Here are six of the contenders for the illustrious position of Manchester United captain:
1. Wayne Rooney
Following yet another summer where speculation regarding the striker’s future was barely out the headlines, Rooney has been the club’s most consistent performer this season.
While fans have long since abandoned their admiration for the Scouser, following the ‘ambition-gate’ of 2010, it’s hard to argue that any other player embodies the sheer will to win and hatred of losing as much as Rooney.
Now 28-years-old and closing in on Bobby Charlton’s all-time goalscoring record for the club, the captain’s armband may be all that is needed to convince him that his future lies at Old Trafford.
2. Robin Van Persie
Aside from Rooney, the Dutchman may be the only truly world class player remaining at United.
Van Persie held the captain’s armband at Arsenal for a season before signing for the Red Devils and commands the respect of staff and team-mates alike.
After firing United to the title in a phenomenal debut season, the current campaign has seen him plagued with injuries and speculation of rifts with Moyes. Much like Rooney, the added responsibility of the captaincy may be all the motivation he needs.
3. Darren Fletcher
The Scot has recently returned to action following a prolonged spell out suffering from ulcerative colitis.
Having joined the club at the age of eleven, he overcame initial barbs and ridicule from fans to become one of the squad’s more popular players.
With Ryan Giggs the last of the famed ‘Class of ‘92’ remaining, Fletcher may soon become the club’s longest-serving player.
Barring a return of his unfortunate health problems, Fletcher would be a popular choice among supporters.
4. Michael Carrick
The Geordie midfielder took home the club’s player of the year award last season and in doing so managed to convince some of his doubters that he’s not the one-trick pony some have made him out to be.
A master of the long range pass, which are sometimes a touch horizontal for the purists’ liking, he has now been at the club for almost eight years.
At times possessing somewhat of a ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ persona, can anyone really see him rallying the troops when the side are chasing a vital three points?
5. Phil Jones
“If you talk to Bobby Charlton,” says Paddy Crerand, Charlton’s team-mate in United’s 1968 European Cup winning team, “Phil Jones reminds him of Duncan Edwards with his power and build.”
Quite a comparison by arguably United’s biggest legend. Often cited as a future captain for United and England, the versatile Jones has impressed fans with his no-nonsense approach since joining the club in the summer of 2011.
Set to turn 22 later this month, his appointment as captain over the next number of years could see the return of some much needed stability since the departure of Ferguson.
6. Jonny Evans
Another like Fletcher who has grown up at the club, the Ulsterman’s performances in last years title-winning campaign did much to overturn the fans’ modest opinions of him.
This season however, some of the errors that blighted his early career have crept back into his game. A boyhood United fan, the centre-half would no doubt see the captaincy as a huge honour, however he remains an outside bet.
Following Vidic’s announcement, the likelihood is that veterans Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs will be following him through the Old Trafford exit door in the near future.
Amidst a transitional period for the Red Devils, the next captain will need to set the bar for others in terms of passion and pride for the Manchester United crest.
Given the current trend of poor results on the pitch, which sees the club struggling to qualify for next season’s Champions League, David Moyes will be hoping that the decision as to who will be be the club’s next captain remains in his hands.
Pundit Arena, James Fenton.
Darren Fletcher By Gordon Flood [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Phil Jones By Flickr user nasmac [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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