Jose Mourinho confirms Antonio Valencia will captain Manchester United next season

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho has confirmed Antonio Valencia as his new captain following the retirement of Michael Carrick last season.

The Ecuadorian, heading into his tenth season at Old Trafford, was the club’s de facto skipper last term with Carrick sidelined with heart problems.

Ashley Young, Juan Mata, David de Gea, Chris Smalling and Paul Pogba have all captained Manchester United at various points of Mourinho’s tenure.

The 55-year-old confirmed after the 1-1 draw with Club America in Arizona that Valencia, somewhat unsurprisingly, would take over the captaincy on an official basis.

The captain was Valencia last season, I think he’s going to be the captain,” he said. “And when he doesn’t play we have to make decisions.”

“Depends on who is on the pitch, if Smalling is, if Ashley Young is, if Herrera is or Mata is, if they are on the pitch they have an option. Matic has all the attributes to be Manchester United captain but he arrived only one year ago.”

Many supporters had called for Pogba, after footage emerged of his galvanising dressing room influence for France at the World Cup, to take over the captaincy, but Valencia was always going to be Mourinho’s pick.

The main reason is longevity. Valencia would have been at United for a decade this time next year. There is an element of heritage and inherent understanding with him which Mourinho likes: an ability to set the tone and pace, to quietly lead by example.

That is not to say Pogba – or Romelu Lukaku, who led Belgium team talks on the pitch over the World Cup – cannot help to lead the team next season. Valencia’s role should be to maintain discipline and a certain standard. The Frenchman, on the other hand, can help to engender a sense of spirit in the dressing room, which United may end up needing more than anything in their third campaign under Mourinh.

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