Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Roy Keane and Gary Neville. They are all former Manchester United captains. Any one of them would take a rocketing ball to the head if it resulted in a United win, any one of them would play in any position required if it helped the team and any one of them would gladly take a pay cut if it lengthened their stay at their club Manchester United.
They all played for the club’s badge, with pride and honour and would fight tooth and nail to help ensure its success. In doing this they produced some truly mesmerizing performances, such as Roy Keane’s performance vs Juventus in the 1999 UCL Semi-Final. Not only were they fantastic footballers, they were also leaders, on and off the pitch, who could single-handedly motivate the whole team by leading through example, and carry them through the most grueling of matches.
Most recently another Manchester United great, our very own captain Nemanja Vidic signed a contract which would see him depart for Italian club Inter Milan. His signing with Inter before he has even left the club seems oddly out of character for the veteran Serbian as his departure will undoubtedly weaken an already fledgling team. His departure will also intensify an ongoing problem this season, which has been lack of leadership on the pitch.
An example of the lack of leadership was in our away performance at Greek giants Olympiacos.
Yes, there have been worse results such as the 6-1 derby thrashing to the hands of rivals Man City however during the derby we lost the match trying to win it. That is something I am willing to occasionally accept. As long as I can see every single one of the players playing with pride and passion for the club I can occasionally accept defeat. However against Olympiacos, passion was something we were lacking by the bucketful. Our performance was dull and none of the players showed any desire to chase down second balls and fight for the match. None of the players were willing to take the match to Olympiacos. We sat back and just waited for the barrage of Greek attacks. Sitting back and waiting, is simply not a Manchester United trait and I am not going to ever accept it as one. I could have understood if we had gone to Greece, played our hearts out and even lost 3-0 however we put in a lackluster performance which resulted in a totally deserving 2-0 loss.
During that match we lacked the drive to win. We lacked a ‘Manchester United‘ Captain, who would have pushed each and every single one of those players to the very limits of their abilities. Could you imagine such a performance under Roy Keane? Could you imagine a performance under Steve Bruce? No. They were leaders on the pitch and would have motivated the team. They would have done what all great Manchester United captains do and would have lead through example. If it meant making a dirty challenge to wake up our players they would have done it, if it meant giving each player a stern ‘talking to’ they would have done it. They would have lead that team and would have somehow managed to achieve an acceptable result against the Greeks. Our result however, was anything but acceptable.
With Vidic’s best days behind him and his head in Italy, our captain despite putting in a respectful performance, was unable to recall days gone by and act as the Serbian Wall as he once could. The only other player who showed the slightest of desire to take the game by the scruff of the neck was Wayne Rooney, however he was also unable to motivate his fellow team mates.
It’s all well and good putting in a respectable individual performance, however whether you can motivate your whole team or just yourself is the difference between simply a Manchester United player and a Manchester United Captain. Currently we have only a handful who can call themselves the former and, in my opinion and at the moment, none who can call themselves the latter. The searching for a new leader is of most urgent importance and the quicker we can find one, the quicker we can commence our path towards long term recovery.
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