Must Solskjaer be old school in choosing captain too?
Image: Daniel CC BY-SA 2.0
Every team, even the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, go through tough periods in the season and it’s in those moments that a club captain becomes most vital. It's their job to not only keep themselves motivated but also boost the morale of the people around them.
Back in the day, the captain's role was given the utmost significance with only the most deserving being chosen. For Manchester United, the job has turned into something more ceremonial than anything, with the captain being the one who leads the team out and who’s present for the pre-match coin toss.
United have had many flaws since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Amongst their biggest issues has been the lack of leadership at the club since the retirement of the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic as well as the exit of Wayne Rooney. At the same time, United's recent managers have underestimated the power of a club captain, while often, the experienced player had been chosen instead of the best fit.
Antonio Valencia, who isn’t the most vocal nor the most fluent English speaker is the current Red Devils captain. Paul Pogba, who's show of leadership during the World Cup in Russia was outstanding, was revoked of his vice-captaincy by former manager Jose Mourinho.
What seems worrying is present manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, doesn’t seem too concerned with who fills the role either.
So there are 11 captains out there, really, it doesn't really bother me. I was captain for Norway, and quite a few times for United, but I still don't tell my kids I was captain of Man United or Norway - but once in a while, you are.
While the Baby Faced Assassin has a point in saying there should be 11 captains on the field, what he needs to realise is that during trying times his team will need to look to someone for inspiration. While he'll always be on the touchline it’s not the same as being on the pitch. If he doesn't have someone to pick his team up when they need it the most they may find themselves crumbling when the pressure becomes too much.
Just because you're a good player doesn't mean you're a good leader. Lionel Messi has proven this. When Argentina lost the Copa America final to Chile in 2016, his first act of business as captain was to announce his retirement from International football. This is yet another example of a captain being chosen based on talent and not credentials.
While United have lack leaders in recent times a few have emerged as strong candidates, namely Pogba and Ander Herrera. Even though Mourinho revoked Pogba's vice-captaincy, the slate has been wiped clean with Solskjaer's arrival. When asked about Pogba's prospects as a future United Captain, the Norwegian had some encouraging words for the 25-year-old.
Definitely, yeah, because I know the boy from before, and he is a leader," said Solskjaer. He's a character, he influences people, and you've seen the videos from France, and he cares, and he really wants to be successful.
He knows he can't do it by himself, it's a team game, and he's a character that brings so many good things with him when he's enjoying himself, I have to say. You see the personality. He'd love playing football, he's a larger-than-life character, that's just the way he is.
When the performances come as well, that marries together as a good leader and you see what it meant to him winning the World Cup in what France broadcast. So, for me, yes, he's captain material.
The other candidate, Herrera, has been touted as United's next captain for a while now. If you've seen any of Herrera’s interviews you know he can clearly speak English well. He obviously loves the club, choosing to stay put even after seasons of having to warm the bench when he wasn't exactly the first name on the team sheet.
Herrera's a vocal player, often seen shouting around on the pitch, couple that with his love of the club and the affection the players hold for him and you have the ingredients to make a perfect leader.
Solskjaer has solved many of United problems since his arrival. It's understandable why he wouldn't want to make a captaincy change just yet, as that might shake the dressing room up in the midst of him trying to settle it down. If the 45-year-old does manage to stay beyond this season though, then he should very well look into picking the player that will be able to lead United into a new era.