Jose Mourinho today confirmed that Antonio Valencia will be his club captain for the coming season. The recently retired Michael Carrick was the official skipper last campaign but hardly played, meaning the armband was shared with Valencia, 32, normally wearing it.
The move sees World Cup winner Paul Pogba overlooked for a share of the Old Trafford responsibility with his boss failing to mention him in a list of six potential captaincy candidates, despite a key role in France’s victorious summer tournament.
The captain was Valencia last season. I think he’s going to be the captain and when he doesn’t play we have to make decisions. It depends on who is on the pitch if Chris Smalling is, if Ashley Young is, if Ander Herrera is or Juan Mata is. If they are on the pitch we have an option – Mourinho on the captaincy.
Footage recently emerged of an inspired Pogba giving a motivational team talk to his French teammates at the Luzhniki Stadium before they went out and beat Croatia 4-2.
Pogba’s rallying cry was more emotional than tactical, urging his country to get the job done for their families – after France lost the Euro 2016 final to Portugal on home soil. The former Juventus man also gave a half-time speech in the last-16 win over Uruguay.
Given Pogba's formative years, he is still just 25-years-old, it is perhaps understandable why the ultra-conservative Mourinho opted for the experienced Ecuadorian veteran Valencia. But, the Lagny-sur-Marne-born powerhouse has shown maturity beyond most players of his age.
For many, the move appears short-sighted. When motivated, Pogba has shown tournament winning quality, scoring for France in the World Cup final.
And who can forget Pogba's stunning second-half performance against rivals Manchester City last April? Just 97 seconds separated Pogba’s two goals, as United turned a 2-0 half-time City lead into a 3-2 victory, a win preventing the Citizens from winning the title at the Etihad Stadium.
His driving midfield display that day was proof of the sublime world-class levels of performance the Frenchman can reach when liberated from his manager’s defensive shackles.
As time passes and Pogba reaches his peak years, United will rightly try to construct a dominant team with Pogba as the jewel in the Old Trafford crown.
He is becoming a world star, his playing style revolving around domination, power, pace and, of course, extreme skill and absurd technical ability. Learning from his 124 appearances for Juventus, playing alongside midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo, gathering information from Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon.
Indeed, Adil Rami, the highly experienced 32-year-old French centre-back hailed Pogba's leadership as he retired from international action after the Moscow triumph.
What better way to reward one of the game's top talents with the token captaincy gesture, and what better way to ensure that arguably Manchester United's most prized and valuable asset remains safe and secure?
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