Harry Maguire’s days as Manchester United captain look likely to be at an end as incoming manager Erik ten Hag prepares to let the players vote on who should succeed him.
Despite rumours of dressing room cliques and unrest, poor team performances and even worse individual form, Maguire has retained the faith of three different managers – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Michael Carrick and Ralf Rangnick – and held on to the captaincy.
However, according to a new report from The Sun, Ten Hag has “told sources” he will be ringing the changes in terms of the captaincy by letting the players vote for who they want to have the armband next season.
The same report then goes on to claim that insiders believe that this means goalkeeper David de Gea will be chosen by the squad to take over from the beleaguered defender.
“They claim that it is not so much a ‘rebellion’ against the current skipper Maguire,” The Sun says.
“Rather a show of faith in how much respect and belief they hold in the 31-year-old Spaniard.”
Whilst we are used to taking some of The Sun’s reports with a pinch of salt, there is a ring of truth to this one.
First, De Gea’s popularity with his teammates is given credence by the fact that he won United’s Players’ Player of the Year award last week, ahead of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Second, when quizzed at a recent press conference (via Metro) about who should be captain next season, outgoing boss Rangnick said:
“In Germany it’s called ‘match kapitan’, so the captain of the team.
“I strongly believe that the captain should be elected by the team because he’s called the team manager, and we always did that.
“We always had a board of four or five players, we called it the ‘spielkapitan’, elected by the players, the player with the highest amount of votes was the team captain at the end.”
The fact that Rangnick said this was normal in Germany makes it very plausible that Ten Hag, who worked at Bayern Munich between 2013 and 2015, would be familiar with the method.
Being relieved of the captaincy might be a blessing in disguise for Maguire, whose form may have been affected by the extra responsibility.
However, some do not like the idea of the goalkeeper being the captain because he is not able to cover the whole pitch to motivate, organise, pass on instructions and discuss decisions with the referee.
Another issue where De Gea is concerned is that he is not the most vocal of players on the pitch.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes are other options.