Top 5 Possible Captains for Manchester United
He wasn't the most obvious candidate for the captaincy back in 2010, having only been captain when Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand or Patrice Evra were unavailable, but Sir Alex Ferguson picked the Serbian to replace Gary Neville.
Maybe United's former manager saw the great potential for leadership in Vidic, or maybe the club felt it needed to offer the player the armband in order to convince him to sign a new contract.
Regardless, Vidic is gone now, and United need to find a new captain. Of all the characteristics required to make a good captain, whom Louis van Gaal picks depends on which attributes he rates as the most important. Will he want a captain who has experience winning? Someone who has a great understanding of the club? Someone who has a lot of respect in the dressing room? Someone who isn't afraid to speak up and say what it is necessary to his team-mates, even if it isn't popular?
Who will it be?
Robin Van Persie
Since Van Gaal's appointment, Robin van Persie is now the favourite to be Manchester United captain next season.
Van Persie is the captain for Holland, and just last week, the manager talked about what a great leader United's striker is and how important it is for the manager and player to be on the same wavelength.
Mark Ogden of The Telegraph reported on Van Gaal's comments following Van Persie's goal against Ecuador during a friendly a week ago.
He is my captain. He is my top scorer in the one-and-a-half years that he has played under me. He became all-time top scorer of the Dutch team, he plays superb football and even coming back from a bad injury, he scores a fantastic, unbelievable goal. I was happy with his performance, but he is also a fantastic captain. I think you always make a player captain when you have the same morals and philosophy. Not only about football and tactics and what is happening on the pitch but about life. I think that’s very important and I believe that Van Persie and Van Gaal share the same philosophy.
Given Van Gaal's opinions on Van Persie, it's hard to imagine he would choose someone else to captain his team at the club level.
But there are other suitable candidates that he should consider.
A few months ago, Wayne Rooney was the favourite to become United's next captain after being a clear favourite of David Moyes' and wearing the armband in the absence of Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra.
Van Gaal will get a closer look of what Rooney is capable of at this summer's World Cup, and, if the striker impresses, the manager might be tempted to follow Moyes' judgement.
Rooney has been at the club for 10 years and is popular in the dressing room. Having someone who knows how the club works and who is well liked by the players as the captain would be a huge benefit for Van Gaal.
BBC Sport reported on Rooney's recent comments where he made a bid to be considered worthy of being United's next captain.
I am interested in the captaincy. I feel I am ready, but it's the manager's decision. I've captained United a few times and to get it on a full-time basis would be great. Robin is captain of his country, he has captained Arsenal and if he gets the nod, I'm sure he'll do a great job.
Patrice Evra has officially been the vice-captain of United for the past four seasons but still wore the armband on numerous occasions before then.
Of all the players at United, he probably speaks the best about the club, repeatedly reiterating how grateful he is to wear the shirt.
"You know how much I love this club," he recently told ManUtd.com when discussing his future. His feelings for the club are apparent to everyone.
After scoring against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final last season, Evra told the club's official website that he scored it for the Busby Babes. He has such a deep appreciation of the club's history that he is an asset to United, both on and off the pitch.
Having just signed a year-long extension, presumably on Van Gaal's say-so, it is clear that his experience is valued highly.
However, what might count against him is the likelihood that he won't be in the starting 11 every week.
Jonny Evans was brought up supporting Manchester United and loves the club. He is a professional, so he would do the job for any team, but it is clear that his feelings for United give him something extra when he's on the pitch.
In a recent interview with ManUtd.com, he spoke in detail about what the club means to him.
I grew up watching the teams that Sir Alex Ferguson built over the years, so to be a part of that was a great feeling. It's also about winning trophies because it's winning things that goes down in history. You feel the responsibility of playing for United every time you pull on the shirt. It's kind of strange because you grow up as a fan but as soon as you become a player you kind of feel on the other side of it. You are representing the club on the pitch; you're still a fan but it's from a totally different perspective. You've got to try to make the fans happy as well as the manager and do your job for the club.
He is younger than most of the other candidates, but he has still managed six seasons in United's first team.
Playing the centre of defence, he has a good view of everything that is going on during the game, so he is always in a good position to give instructions to others.
Evans is not an obvious choice, but he is one that should be considered by Van Gaal, particularly if he is going to be given the chance to start on a weekly basis in the absence of Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
Phil Jones, who is only 22, has yet to fulfill the potential that club legends have claimed he has. Sir Bobby Charlton has said that Jones reminds him of Duncan Edwards, per The Telegraph, the greatest player Charlton ever played with, whilst Sir Alex Ferguson once claimed that Jones could go on to be the club's best player ever, per The Guardian.
With Vidic and Ferdinand leaving, Jones now has the opportunity to nail down a place in the starting line-up, and Van Gaal may be keen to tap into his youthfulness and desire to win.
Ferguson revealed that it was Jones' response to losing 7-1 to United when he was a teenager playing for Blackburn that confirmed he had the makings of a United player, as reported by The Mirror.
“I was convinced we had to get him after he played against us in the 7-1 game. When they lost the fifth goal, he was the one out there giving them all stick. That impressed me.”
Jones isn't a great player yet, but maybe with the added responsibility of the captaincy, he could finally fulfill the potential he has.
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