Football

Wayne Rooney showed in 2010 why he is Manchester United captain

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A wide range of opinions have offered about the wisdom, or otherwise, of Van Gaal's decision to make Wayne Rooney the new captain of Manchester United, but a Champions' League semi -final in 2010 encapsulates best the reason why he is the best candidate for the role.

In 2010, Manchester United met Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the Champions League and Rooney played a key role.

Striker

Playing in the role of an out and out striker, Rooney scored in the first minute of the first leg in Germany. He tormented the German defence throughout the whole game, giving an inspirational, man-of-the-match performance.

His game was marred, though, by what was a serious ankle ligament injury. By the time Bayern scored a last minute winner, Rooney was hobbling around the field, with little hope of appearing in the second leg.

A week later in Manchester, there was a gasp from the Old Trafford crowd when it was announced that Rooney was in the starting line-up. Sir Alex Ferguson viewed Rooney as so important to the team that he took a massive gamble and played his talisman.

The first twenty minutes were incredible with Rooney heavily involved in every move, despite being considerably troubled by his ankle injury. It was his inspiration that led United to a shock three goal lead against the shell-shocked German side. His injury, though, troubled him more and more and, at times, he was literally playing on one leg.

Game changer

Bayern pinched a goal just before the break and the complexion of the game changed. To everyone's surprise, Rooney appeared after half time, but was substituted after ten minutes. After that, Bayern took control of the game, Rafael was sent off and a brilliant strike from Robben made sure his team qualified on away goals.

The aftermath of the game was significant for Rooney as his race for fitness for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was never likely to be successful. When he did eventually play he was a shadow of the player who won the season's PFA Player of the Year Award.

Prospects

Rooney must have known how playing in that second leg could ruin his prospects of playing in the World Cup, and yet, he went out and gave everything for the team, with little thought for himself.

Wayne Rooney has deserved the captaincy and will lead by example, giving everything to the cause in order to make the team, and not just himself, a success. I wonder on that night in April 2010 if Rooney realised the impact his gritty, selfless performance for the team was having on the opposition manager- a certain Louis Van Gaal. He does now, I would imagine.

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Topics:
Premier League
Manchester United
Football

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