Wayne Rooney Should Be the New Captain of Manchester United

Sam PilgerContributing Football WriterAugust 12, 2014

Aug 4, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney (10) reacts in the second half of a game against Liverpool at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

At first it appeared obvious that Louis van Gaal would appoint Robin van Persie as his captain at Manchester United

After all, they have just enjoyed a successful partnership as manager and captain for the Netherlands at the World Cup in Brazil.

The bond between the pair could be seen in the Netherlands' ruthless 5-1 destruction of Spain in Brazil when Van Persie scored his wonderful looping header and ran toward Van Gaal for a celebratory high five.

They already know and trust each other, and so it would seem to make sense for Van Gaal to hand his compatriot the United armband.

But only 26 days in to his Old Trafford reign it has become clear Van Gaal is probably too astute to make such an obvious choice.

There is little for him to gain from making Van Persie his captain.

Van Gaal can already be assured that the striker, who was clearly unhappy under David Moyes and toiled for most of last season, will be revived by now working with his former national coach in England. 

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands celebrates with head coach Louis van Gaal after scoring the team's first goal in the first half during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fon
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Van Gaal would be wiser to look beyond Van Persie for his leader this season. 

During United’s pre-season tour of the USA Van Gaal auditioned several players for the captaincy including Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher and even Tom Cleverley.

However, there is only one real candidate for the role: Rooney.

By making Rooney his captain Van Gaal would immediately embolden a player who again will be crucial to United this season. 

Rooney might have thought he would lose out to Van Persie but such a show of faith in him from Van Gaal could inspire him to have one of his best seasons yet.

As he prepares to turn 29, Rooney is old enough to be captain and can bring a decade of experience of playing for United to the job. He has earned the promotion.

Rooney’s feats in the game command respect from his team-mates, and his work-rate and unflinching efforts on the pitch have long served as an inspiration to them.

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

In recent years Rooney has endured an uncomfortable relationship with United’s fans after twice asking to leave the club.

In the autumn of 2010 Rooney submitted a transfer request, which triggered a ferocious backlash from United’s extensive fanbase. 

And again in the spring of 2013 in the final days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, the former United manager confirmed to Sky Sports that Rooney had asked to leave Old Trafford.

While Rooney has made mistakes they should not act as a barrier to the United captaincy.

Denis Law once handed in a transfer request at United and George Best walked out on the club several times, but today they are both cast in bronze as statues on the forecourt at Old Trafford.

Who are the other realistic candidates? Fletcher and Jonny Evans both have their merits but neither of them can even be certain of being regulars under Van Gaal.

Rooney would be the right choice to lead United out as captain against Swansea City at Old Trafford this Saturday lunchtime and for the rest of the season.