When Nemanja Vidic leaves Manchester United at the end of the current campaign, the captain’s armband will be up for grabs.
With the future of Patrice Evra also in some doubt, the responsibility is set to be passed to someone new – with most believing that man to be Wayne Rooney.
In the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the striker’s new long-term contract, some reports claimed the captaincy was included in the deal – something Rooney has since denied. But given his age and his experience, it makes sense that the 28-year-old would take over from Vidic when the time comes.
But I have another suggestion; because I believe there is another player at Old Trafford with the ability to skipper the side for the next decade, and do a mighty fine job of it.
That player is Phil Jones.
He may only be 22, but the United and England defender has been playing at the top level since he was a teenager (just as Rooney has). And with Vidic soon to depart, Jones will surely be given the chance to play regularly in the position both he and many others see as his best.
Against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, Jones was immense, scoring the opening goal but also keeping the hosts at bay. And while David Moyes is likely to bring in a new centre-back next summer, I would not be surprised if that is to play him alongside Jones rather than instead of him.
Speaking after the weekend victory, Jones told Sky Sports, “Every game is massive for us now. It’s got to be the mentality now for the rest of the season, there’s no two ways about it.
“Hopefully we’ve turned the corner but it’s game by game for now. The fans expect us to win every week and so do we, so it’s been difficult.”
You could see when Jones scored against the Baggies that he is older and seemingly wiser than his years.
Despite netting his first league goal of the season, there was no elation seen from many a young player when he nets a vital strike. Instead there was a steely determination, a sense that he was simply doing his job, helping to pull his side through a difficult period.
Jones may be young, but he has not been a 'young player' for a long time. He has simply been a footballer, doing what is asked of him time and again, playing here, there and everywhere and consistently impressing.
Some will still say he is not old enough. But if a captain’s role is to inspire and do as should be done, Jones is as good as most.
I still feel Rooney will be given the responsibility, but with Evra potentially leaving this summer there could also be a vacancy for vice-captain, giving Jones the perfect chance to prove he deserves the full-time job when it comes round again.
image: © nasmac