This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Amidst all the focus on the transfer window at Old Trafford, one thing that has seemingly slipped under the radar has been the fact the club does not have an official first-team captain at the moment.
Veteran right-back Antonio Valencia’s departure in the summer has left United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a tough decision to make over the coming weeks as the club look to name a permanent successor to the Ecuadorian.
Indeed, speaking back in April, Solskjaer admitted that there were certain traits and characteristics he would be looking for in the next United captain. He said: “There’s a certain criteria. They have to be one of the, how do you say, cultural architects if I put it in a nice word. It’s someone you have to look up to, someone who’s got the right habits, standards and the personality to be that.”
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What is perhaps fascinating about Solskjaer’s words was the names he mentioned during that press conference about who could potentially take over from Valencia. He added: “We’ve had Antonio, he’s going, we’ve had Ashley (Young), we’ve had Paul (Pogba), we’ve had David (de Gea), Chris (Smalling) has been captain, so there are players here who can be captain on the pitch.”
All four of the names the Norwegian reeled off have a major asterisk to their names, and none of them arguably in the positive. Speculation remains that Pogba could be heading for an Old Trafford exit this summer, De Gea went through his arguably his most underwhelming campaign in a United shirt for many a year, and both Smalling and Young are hardly guaranteed starters in the first-team.
As the clock ticks down to the opening Premier League game of the season against Chelsea next month, the Red Devils are ultimately left scrambling around to bestow one of the biggest honours in club football; captain of Manchester United.
A side littered with some of the greatest leaders in the history of the game, ranging from Sir Bobby Charlton to Wayne Rooney, from Bryan Robson to Roy Keane. And now, the prospect of having a player who has made it clear he doesn’t want to be there, or someone who has proven that they might not even be good enough in the first place.
If ever there was a damning indictment of how United have fallen in recent years, then the uncertainty and frankly shocking choices of options for the captaincy says it all.