Should Rio Ferdinand be Manchester United captain?

Many Manchester United fans have not forgiven Rio Ferdinand for asking for more money during stalled contract negotiations (which happened after that 8-month drug ban that made an example out of Rio). Scott from the Republik of Mancunia is one of them, and despite opinions to the contrary, there are many other Manchester United fans who can’t trust him as they would trust a ‘true Red’.

I wrote about Rio last week, specifically in response to Oliver Holt’s ramblings. Reading Scott’s piece today, it made question again how United fans view Rio and the defender’s future at Manchester United itself.

I’ve backed Rio for the Manchester United captaincy for over an year now. He’s the best defender by a mile, his passion to win (and more importantly, his loathing towards losing) is an inspiration and he’s the right age and stature in the United squad to be leading the club.

However, Rio can’t do that as long as Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs are there. In some ways this is fair, because in Neville Manchester United have a true icon and a deserving captain, while Giggs is quite simply a legend and he has grown into his role of vice-captain over the last season by taking more responsibility on and off the pitch.

On the other hand, Gary Neville is not going to have an injury-free season – he’s missed a month’s worth of football and there’s every chance that he’ll be injured again (whether it’s a niggle or a tweak) before Christmas. Giggsy on the other hand can be relied on to stay fit but he isn’t the same force this season that he was last year. Giggsy still has a major role to play at Manchester United especially with the youngsters but on the pitch his influence is lessening and with the purchase of Hargreaves and the growing talents of Darren Fletcher, Giggsy is not needed in central midfield. That leaves the left wing, where his lack of pace (although he’s still fast) can leave United compromised.

Ryan Giggs is getting old, and he won’t play 50 games this season.

Rio Ferdinand has played the most games by any Manchester United player in the past two seasons, and he has been the bedrock on whom the results of the last two seasons were built (many are quick to forget Rio’s hand in keeping United steady during the injury-hit 2005/2006 season). United fans, especially after the way Heinze left, may not be quick to trust Rio but he has, on dint of performances and his passion alone, earned the right to be Manchester United captain.

In fact, he’s already a leader on the pitch, even when Gary Neville or Ryan Giggs is wearing the armband. The big question is whether SAF will make the bold move and give the armband to Rio. It’s a big deal, because Rio as captain will be a more responsible and harder-working person on and off the pitch, which can only help United. It’s a big deal because Rio as captain focuses United towards the future and places more responsibility on the younger players in the squad (and symbolically removes the dependence we seem to have on our aging stars).

Rio Ferdinand for Manchester United captain (assuming he doesn’t backstab us next summer with a move away – somehow I doubt that will happen) – what do you think people?

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