Robin Van Persie Would Have Been Disaster as United Captain, Says Dwight Yorke

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United in action during the Pre Season Friendly match between Manchester United and Valencia at Old Trafford on August 12, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke believes it "would have been a disaster" if Louis van Gaal had picked Robin van Persie as the club's new captain over Wayne Rooney.

United recently confirmed Rooney's ascension to the iconic role, reported by Ben Hibbs of the club's official website. Many had Van Persie pinned alongside the Englishman for the armband—an argument galvanised due to RvP serving as captain under Van Gaal in the Netherlands set-up—but ultimately the honour was given to United's long-serving forward.

Yorke believes this is the correct decision, mainly due to Rooney's success with the club and his presence as a leader, reported by Martin Blackburn of The Sun (subscription required) via ESPN:

I think it's a fantastic move for the club and fantastic for Wayne too. He's been at the club 10 years this month, he remains the best player and for me he epitomises Manchester United. To me appointing Van Persie would have been a disaster. Yes, he's done it for Holland and Arsenal but he's only been at United for five minutes.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18:  Dwight Yorke poses during the official Manchester United official lunch at Westin Hotel on July 18, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Yorke also noted Rooney has maintained a key role in United's success, while saying the 28-year-old is a "major figure in that dressing room." Rooney has worked under captains including Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic, something Yorke believes ensures "he'll know all about how they did the job," per ESPN.

The odds were heavily stacked in Rooney's favour when considering both his club success and personality. His decade with United has yielded five Premier League titles, two League Cups, three Community Shields, a Champions League triumph and victory in FIFA's Club World Cup showpiece (not to mention numerous individual rewards). 

In September 2013, he also became the fourth person after legends Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Jack Rowley to score 200 goals for the club, per BBC Sport. In comparison, Van Persie has landed one Premier League title during two seasons at Old Trafford, the second of which was ravaged with injury.

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Rooney's alleged decision to hand in a transfer request during May 2013 stands as a point of contention for many United fans, who believe his reported moment of disloyalty shouldn't be rewarded with the captaincy.

Former Red Devils defender Danny Higginbotham suggested he isn't the first United leader to go against the club:

Keane remains one of United's best ever leaders and is someone Rooney shares similarities with. The striker possesses an aggressive, wholehearted game in which he leaves nothing on the pitch. His fiery nature has the ability to cripple his effectiveness in occasional moments of madness, ensuring it is never a surprise to see Rooney cautioned for an unnecessary tackle or lashing out.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 03:  Substitute Robin van Persie of Manchester United looks on from the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on May 3, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Even so, he wouldn't be such an important player without this deep-rooted attitude. Rooney is the type who will continuously run for United's cause, track back throughout 90 minutes and lead his team to victory through industry alone. He remains a key goalscorer, creator and all-round outlet across the pitch, adding steel to United's defensive efforts when needed.

Van Persie is a proven leader, but United's current squad needs a vocal, constantly outgoing individual to inspire. Considering the Dutch striker is unlikely to be fit for Saturday's Premier League opener against Swansea, per ESPN, it would have been strange for the new boss to name RvP captain and then start the term with Rooney taking the armband in his absence.

Ultimately, Van Gaal has chosen United's long-serving British battlers to lead the team, underlined by Darren Fletcher's positioning as vice captain.

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Rooney now has the chance to solidify himself as a United icon and prove any doubters wrong in the captaincy role. He has always been a player who scores in bursts, meaning he will need to remain fully fit if he is to significantly aid United's quest to make the Champions League places next season.

United supporters can expect goals, yellow cards and plenty of shouting from the new leader, but once he steps onto the pitch, there's no questioning Rooney's commitment to the club.