The Devil’s Advocate – Rooney’s captaincy, transfer traumas and Glazer’s robbery

by Mayur Joshi

The 2014/2015 Premier League season is nearly upon us and with it comes the start of a new weekly column that I’ll be writing for The Peoples Person.

As the title indicates, I’ll be looking to generate debate and conversation. Whether it is intelligent debate and conversation remains to be seen. In the process, I expect people will miss the point and choose to use this as yet another avenue to hurl abuse at each and every person stating an opinion, reporting fact or merely standing in the vicinity. It is the internet after all!

I’ll be offering my view, your views and potentially other people’s views as we navigate the hot topics each week and even before the season has started there’s plenty to digest.

The somewhat inevitable announcement of Wayne Rooney as the new club captain was made this week with plenty being said by everyone with half a brain and an opinion. Ultimately, whilst the granny shagging, cigarette smoking, beer drinking scouser isn’t my favourite person in the world, he was probably the only one suitable for the job.

Given that King Louis had stated he would assess the players before making his decision, it’s hardly surprising that a squad missing Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans (for the most part) would result in the rotund one getting the job.  After a stellar pre-season where Rooney was our most consistent performer, it wasn’t hard to see how this would all end. It’s time to look forward and move on even if he did try to engineer a move to Manchester City in 2010. I’m certainly trying to.

Whether making Rooney captain says more about him or the state of the squad in general is an interesting thought. Is it a similar case to last season where he is simply the best of what is left? Has he benefited from Robin van Persie’s absence from pre-season? Or is he genuinely a leader that others in the squad look up to? Remember, this squad contains many of the players that he deemed ‘not good enough’ when he first developed his ‘enthusiasm’ for transfer requests.

Whichever way you look at it, one thing is certain – Van Gaal is not pandering to Rooney. He’s made the decision because he thinks he’s the best candidate for the job. In doing that, it makes the perennially skeletal Darren Fletcher a very interesting choice as vice-captain.

This is a player who hasn’t had a consistent season for over three years now and will struggle to complete back to back games. A player who, even at his best, wouldn’t make it into a top European club’s starting XI. Don’t get me wrong, I have huge respect for the guy considering the illness he’s had to deal with but his appointment as vice-captain definitely says more about the squad than it does about him.

Put simply there is a massive dearth of leadership which isn’t surprising in a summer where we have lost Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra. The loss of Evra made all the more galling after the announcement that Luke Shaw is injured and will be out for up to a month. He clearly responded well to those double training sessions.

On the pitch United continue to impress, rounding off pre-season with a 2-1 win against a Valencia side who recently won the glamorous Emirates Cup. That made it six wins out of six so far for Van Gaal’s magical 3-4-3 formation which is particularly pleasing if you look back to pre-season under Dithering Dave.

Wins against Valencia, Roma, Real Madrid and Liverpool very much rank as impressive compared to losses under The Chosen One™ against the likes of the Thai All-Star XI (they’re all stars you see) and Yokohama F. Marinos, both behemoths of world football I think we’d all agree.

Despite this, everyone is quick to remind everyone else that it’s only pre-season and that there’s no reason to get too excited. Well, I am excited if only because we won’t have to watch David Moyes in the dugout trying to make it as difficult for himself as possible to be Manchester United manager.

The Orange One™ is a decidedly more formidable character and comes armed with a wealth of experience. Importantly, he’s a proven winner across Europe and tactically as astute as they come. It’s almost as though this appointment is a year too late. At least he doesn’t have to follow Sir Alex Ferguson and instead can be safe in the knowledge that he can’t be as comprehensive a failure as our Dave.

Even with Herrera and Shaw added, the squad is not in great shape and while the papers fill page after page with transfer rumours, Ed Woodward is failing to fill the space we’re all supposed to be watching. My advice is to simply take some deep breaths and rhythmically bang your head on the wall until the pain stops, at least until deadline day.

If at that point we haven’t signed anyone, then please feel free to vent your wrath at all pretend-agents, real agents, journalists, people with ‘inside info’, Piers Morgan, your nan and Woodward all you want.

Until then, I urge you to open your eyes and spot the Glazers running away in the background with £120m in their pockets having sold off another chunk of the club for their own gain. As we concern ourselves with transfers, the captaincy, Van Gaal’s gold-member, shirt numbers  and Steven Gerrard’s inspirational huddle & subsequent loss of footing (the grass was too long), the Glazers have walked away with the equivalent of a Cristiano Ronaldo and half a Gareth Bale without so much as a whimper from the greatest fans in the world.

Those sneaky, thieving leprechauns are literally laughing all the way to the bank as we argue about the merits of a fat scouser as captain and who is going to fill the vacant No.33 shirt.

And what can you as a fan base do about it? Not much. What can I do about it? Even less. Plenty have tried to come up with a way to protest against the Glazers but ultimately, we’ll all continue to pay the entrance fee and watch the Glazer money-making machine roll on while drinking Thai lager, eating Chinese crisps and wearing our £22 replica tops (if you were lucky enough to be up during the online glitch).

This brings me full circle to Rooney, the one man in the Glazer era standing up for his and our rights. A man who has risen from modest beginnings, blessed with even more modest intellect that has cajoled, nay, squeezed, every last penny and a little more from the notoriously tight fisted Americans at the helm.

We should admire him, laud him and worship him for this achievement alone. We should look up to him and use him as a beacon, a light, a leader of the people against the perils of modern football and watch in awe as he picks up almost £300,000 a week from people who would piss on the average fan if they could make a few quid out of it. We should all salute him at every game even as he waxes and wanes during another roller-coaster season for him.

With that in mind look out for a rotund, bearded, Indian man standing up on his seat in the Stretford end, chanting “Oh Captain my captain”.

I can’t even take my f***ing iPad to games anymore.

Image: Twitter/peoplesperson_

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