July 26 2014 will go down as a dark day in the history of Manchester United Football Club. It will forever be known as the day when Tom Cleverley captained the team - albeit to a 3-2 victory - against Italian giants AS Roma at the Mile High Stadium in Denver.
Never has a more ordinary player captained England’s most famous football club.
If only MUTV had Roy Keane on as a pundit last night. The United legend surely would have echoed the same sentiments as 99 per cent of the Red Devils’ faithful.
What was the motive behind Van Gaal’s decision?
We all saw at the recent World Cup finals in Brazil that Louis van Gaal enjoys making slightly unorthodox managerial decisions.
Look at his decision to substitute goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul, for example, in the World Cup quarter-finals against Costa Rica while managing the Netherlands.
Some hailed him as a genius, while others called him reckless. In the end, though, his decision was justified as Krul made the all-important penalty saves.
But the veteran Dutchman won’t get that lucky every time he makes a bizarre call.
Maybe this was an attempt to put Cleverley in the shop window. But, then again, perhaps Van Gaal genuinely likes him.
However, there was no excuse for handing him the captains’ armband - particularly with the vastly-experienced Wayne Rooney on the pitch at the same time.
Van Gaal knows Rooney is desperate to become the club’s next permanent skipper, following the departure of Nemanja Vidic, and this was the perfect opportunity to allow the revered England international to showcase his leadership credentials.
Watch: Man Utd 3-2 AS Roma highlights
Cleverley: Timid and can’t lead by example
Some captains lead with their expert communication. Gary Neville, for instance, was always talking and organising to ensure every one of his team-mates were carrying out Sir Alex Ferguson’s instructions on the pitch.
But you don’t necessarily need to be a talker in order to become a captain. Lionel Messi has come out of his shell in recent years, but he’s certainly not a shouter. However, he wears the armband for Argentina because he leads by example with his phenomenal performances.
But Cleverley is neither a talker nor a fantastic player. in short, he’s not captaincy material at all.
As it turned out, it was Rooney who was the night’s man of the match. The striker did lead by example, scoring twice and producing a brilliant assist for Juan Mata’s goal.
It’s fair to assume this was the one and only time that Cleverley will captain Manchester United - but the Red Devils’ faithful will be hoping Van Gaal doesn’t have too many more nasty surprises up his sleeve.
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