Was it all pre-planned or was it by chance? That’s something we may never know. But it came down to this, the last match of the Unites States tour and against rival Liverpool for the pre-season trophy and Louis Van Gaal picked Wayne Rooney to captain his side.
Who would get the captaincy is a hot topic among Manchester United fans. It is speculated, that Van Gaal will hand it to Robin Van Persie, a favorite of his on the Dutch national team, which Van Gaal made Van Persie the captain. As the pre-season tour began, Rooney had to sit and watch as Van Gaal rotated the captaincy by players such as Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher.
But he finally got his chance and in the biggest game of all. There was a picture circulating on social media of Rooney standing and waiting to get onto the field prior to kickoff in Miami, and the look of his face just showed how focused and honoured he was.
Rooney has been Van Gaal’s best player on tour. Doing anything and everything that’s being asked, and then some. And tonight was no different. Rooney was a fighter tonight. Chasing down balls. Going back to defend. He played like the league title was on the line in a late April match.
When Rooney scored the tying goal, early in the 2nd half, that’s when he may have truly earned and won the respect to be the next captain of Manchester United.
Rooney scored and it was 1-1. He could of just ran and celebrate in a corner and been satisfied with it being 1-1, or he could of downplayed it and went to Chicharito, who crossed it to him beautifully. But no, Rooney chose the other route. Pointing and directing players. Yelling and motivating. He scored to tie it, but Rooney wanted more. It was evident, that wasn’t a goal celebration, that was a message he was sending. As the players got back to the centre circle, Rooney again raises and flaps his arms, showing his team they need pace, they need to keep it going and keep attacking.
Did it work?
Just two minutes later, United was back down by Liverpool’s net attacking and Juan Mata made sure his blast was going in. Just two minutes later.
That’s what leaders do. They do the little things. They lead by example. And they motivate.
Rooney perfected all three on Monday night. Sure, it was just a pre-season match but the passion and desire Rooney showed was real. Rooney came on tour, having to listen to everyone as they speculated who’d be the next captain and very few said Rooney, despite him being a legend at the club. He watched as others got the arm band and he just balled out. Winning tournament MVP and leading Manchester United to a undefeated record.
Pre-season may mean nothing to most, but Rooney may have ended all speculation as to who will be the next captain because of a pre-season match. It should be him.