Updated: Monday, 3rd August 2020 @ 11:52pm

Tuesday Team Talk: Rooney must overcome captaincy 'burden' or be replaced

Tuesday Team Talk: Rooney must overcome captaincy 'burden' or be replaced

| By Alex Peace

Roy Hodgson’s comments this weekend on the ‘burden’ of captaincy on Wayne Rooney raises serious questions about his recent performances and whether there is anyone better for the job.

The start to this season has hardly been ground-breaking for anyone at Old Trafford and Rooney is included in that. Three goals in six games is hardly inspirational for his club side and his red card against West Ham was far from captain behaviour.

Yet is Rooney captain material at all though? Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides in the past have always had leaders on the pitch, the likes of Roy Keane and Nemanja Vidic immediately springing to mind.

One of the issues with Manchester United in general is the lack of leaders and Rooney seems to be a prime example of that. He doesn’t strike you as classic captain material, and, if this is the case, Hodgson may have a point: with a lack of leaders the captaincy has been thrust upon him rather than him being the right man for the job.

You look at England teams in the past as well, 1966 had Bobby Moore and other sides have had the likes of Alan Shearer, Bryan Robson and David Beckham. Even the more modern England sides had the likes of John Terry and Steven Gerrard, much more natural leaders than Rooney.

The issue is though, who else is there? Rooney may not be the ideal candidate for captain for club and country but there aren’t many alternatives.

Robin van Persie did captain the Dutch national side under Van Gaal but with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Vidic leaving in the summer, the experience has gone from the side. Rooney may be captain at club and country level because there is simply nobody else.

So is this affecting his performances? No one at Old Trafford has been particularly good this season, Rooney included. Isn’t it his job though to lead by example when the team are struggling and put in a performance? His recent daft red card against West Ham was the complete opposite of that.  

Rooney has been shifted all over the pitch in the opening months of the season as Van Gaal tries to incorporate his news signings in to the side. It has once again brought about the age old argument of where is Rooney’s best position and until he finds that out, it is hard to expect him to improve.

For England, he has still been among the goals but only against the likes of Estonia and San Marino. While qualification for Euro 2016 is basically guaranteed, we probably won’t see the true mark of Rooney as an England captain until the big games at next summer’s tournaments.

Hodgson may have a point about the dual captaincy burdening Rooney but it is hardly his fault. Neither side is awash with candidates for the leadership role so he has been saddled with the responsibility.

If either side want to make big strides, Rooney needs to start acting like a captain or a better replacement needs to be found.  

Main image courtesy of Nike Football via YouTube, with thanks.