England forward Wayne Rooney has revealed he would like to be considered as captain of Manchester United when Louis van Gaal takes on the manager’s post. Strike partner Robin van Persie has been selected by fellow Dutchman van Gaal to captain the Netherlands at the World Cup in Brazil next month, and is tipped to get the nod for United. With the departures of Nemanja Vidić, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, United lack experienced natural leaders and so van Persie and Rooney are the two obvious candidates for the role.
Rooney, like van Persie, is with his fellow countrymen preparing for next month’s showpiece in Brazil. It is arguably the biggest and most important period of Rooney’s England career. Having appeared in eight matches across two finals, Rooney has yet to score. On both occasions he was nursing injuries and so was forgiven for his below-par performances. Now, by his own admission, there will be “no excuses” if he fails to perform on the big stage once again as he goes to Brazil fully fit.
A good World Cup with England along with winning the captain’s armband for United would give Rooney a major boost as he pushes towards his 30th birthday. When asked if he was interested in being United captain, Rooney revealed he did and pointed to the fact he has captained before. He added that getting the job on a full-time basis would be great. “But obviously with the new manager coming in, it’s his decision,” Rooney said. “If he chooses someone else, then honestly I’ve got no problems with that.”
It would also mark a massive turnaround in fortune for Rooney if van Gaal made him his leader as the player has come close to leaving Old Trafford in the past few seasons, negotiating a better deal on both occasions. United fans stuck by their man even though there were murmurs he was prepared to move across town to Manchester City.
There was a small group of irate fans with the belief that Rooney had no desire to anywhere and was just after a £300,000-a-week deal, which he got. True or not, former managers Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes both managed to convince the Scouser his future was at Old Trafford, and that he remained an integral part of the team. Despite a poor season by United’s standards and not even a Europa League spot to show for it, Rooney has remained relatively upbeat about the future. He complained more when he was winning things.
Rooney’s former teammate, Paul Scholes, revealed this week that it was his belief that the former Everton man would not play beyond 32-years-of-age due to his build, the number of injuries the player has had and the amount of energy he expends on the pitch. Already, Rooney is being used more as a deep-lying forward due to the toll being a center-forward has taken on his body. Both club and country have used him in that more roving roll, which is arguably more suited to captaincy anyway.
World Cup Preview is a series providing commentary and analysis of the teams and players participating in this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd