Written by James Jackson @Doublejayz72
Think of Manchester United through the years and it’s not just flair players that come to mind, but leaders as well. Cast your minds back to the 1980’s, United had Martin Buchan and Captain Marvel himself Bryan Robson who regularly led the reds into battle. Add the tough Norman Whiteside, Kevin Moran and combative midfielder Remi Moses United were never short of leaders who not only bled for the shirt but would be prepared to drag their side through any game.
The 1990’s brought the hard as nails defender Steve Bruce and even harder Roy Keane. Even Eric Cantona led by example, if not always by his actions on the pitch. Sir Alex Ferguson has always claimed that the side he built in 1993/94 was a “set of hard bastards”. The great Scot always put this side on a pedestal as his greatest ever United side. It was full of leaders. Paul Ince, Peter Schmeichel, Mark Hughes, Gary Pallister as well as the aforementioned Keane, Bruce and Cantona. Rarely has a football side had almost an entire side full of leaders and captains.
1994 FA Cup Final side – Full of leaders
Over the next couple of seasons a new brand of leader emerged from the youth ranks. Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs all stood up to be counted in the red shirt.
The 2000’s had Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney. In Rooney and Van Nistelrooy United had not just leaders on the pitch but the guys who could get you the goals you needed at any time in any game. The problem is since Rooney left and Michael Carrick retired, there hasn’t really been anyone on their level a player that can motivate the team and lead by example.
The current side is crying out for someone that can drag them up by their boot laces and push them onto to greater things. Sometimes you want to see an example like Roy Keane`s defence of Gary Neville in the tunnel pre match at Highbury. Sometimes it is putting an arm around someone in the changing rooms, every player responds differently to different behaviours.
Rooney became a leader on and off the pitch at United
Paul Pogba seems absolutely perfect for the role in the Blue shirt of the French national team but never seems to transfer that desire and belief for Manchester United. The continuous uncertainty about where he will play his football does not help his potential claim to be captain.
Ashley Young holds the armband at the moment but in the full strength team he wouldn’t be on the pitch which isn’t ideal especially with the lack of experience currently in the squad. United now have a young hungry squad with potential but lacking that member of the squad that refuses to accept defeat and also can lead by example.
It’s possible that the recent acquisition of Harry Maguire could fill this void. He is an England regular and plays in the heart of the defence. Maguire was also vocal in his defence of Pogba when he was the victim of racial abuse on Twitter and quickly called for action. Maguire also stood up after the disappointing draw at Southampton and demanded United have more swagger in possession of the ball. So far the Yorkshire man has shown on and off the pitch that he is a leader and possible future captain at Old Trafford.
Supporters can only hope that Maguire can grow into the role even though he has only recently joined the club. United need a leader and fast.