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Remembering every Man United club captain of the Premier League era

Manchester United have appointed a new club captain ahead of the 2023/24 Premier League campaign, with Erik ten Hag having decided on change in the dressing room.

Ten Hag informed Harry Maguire that he will not wear the armband for the upcoming season, with the defender linked with an exit after losing his place in the team at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes has been named as Maguire’s replacement and following his appointment, we’ve remembered every Manchester United captain of the Premier League era.

Bryan Robson (1982-1994)

Bryan Robson is remembered as one of Manchester United’s all-time greats, with the midfielder earning his ‘Captain Marvel’ moniker during a career in which he embodied natural leadership.

Robson was named captain within a year of his signing from West Brom in 1981 and retained the armband into the Premier League era, where he co-captained the club during their drought-breaking title success in 1992/93.

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The Premier League era came after Robson’s peak, one which saw him celebrated as one of England’s all-time greats. A complete midfielder who crunched into challenges, passed with purpose and arrived into the box with perfect timing to score goals, he was a talismanic presence during a decorated career at Old Trafford.

Steve Bruce (1992-1996)

Steve Bruce shared the captain’s armband during the first two seasons of the Premier League, before inheriting the armband full-time following Robson’s retirement in 1994.

Bruce had been a pivotal part of the club’s title successes in the early nineties, including a famous late brace to down Sheffield Wednesday during the 1992/92 title run-in. Bruce made 414 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United and captained the club to a domestic double during his final season in 1995/96.

A towering presence at centre-back and remarkable goalscoring threat, he is recognised as one of the best players never to win a full England cap.

Eric Cantona (1996-1997)

Eric Cantona took on the armband from Bruce, having established himself as arguably the Premier League’s most influential player at Manchester United.

Cantona’s arrival from Leeds had been the catalyst for the Red Devils’ dominance of the division, with the Frenchman inspiring the club to four Premier League titles in just five seasons. He became the first foreign player to captain the club, but spent just one season as skipper before announcing his shock retirement after leading the club to the 1996/97 Premier League title.

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Cantona departed as one of the most beloved figures in the club’s history, having left countless memories of glorious goals and trademark swagger. ‘King Eric’ scored 82 goals in 185 appearances for the Red Devils.

Roy Keane (1997-2005)

The most successful captain in the club’s history, Keane was the obvious choice to take the captaincy following Cantona’s unexpected exit.

Keane drove Manchester United on to some of their greatest successes, lifting four league titles as captain and leading the side during their historic treble-winning season in 1998/99.

The Irish midfielder was ferocious force of combative commitment and will-to-win, ensuring neither his or his team-mates’ standards dropped during a period of sustained success. By both fear and example, Keane commanded respect and became one of the Premier League’s best ever captains.

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He made 480 appearances for United in all competitions and scored 51 goals, leaving for Celtic having won 17 major trophies at Old Trafford.

Gary Neville (2005-2011)

Gary Neville was made captain following Keane’s departure and spent six seasons in possession of the armband, though struggled for opportunities during the latter part of that period due to injury problems.

The defender had come through the academy system as part of the club’s fabled ‘Class of ’92’ and spent his entire career with his boyhood side, for who he made 602 appearances and won eight Premier League titles among his honours.

Recognised as one of the best right-backs of the Premier League era, he was included in the PFA Team of the Season on five occasions.

Nemanja Vidic (2011-2014)

Nemanja Vidic was next to captain Manchester United having become a well-respected figure at Old Trafford, with the Serbian centre-back’s dominant defending and bravery making him an ideal captaincy candidate.

Vidic was twice named as the Premier League Player of the Season during his time with the Red Devils and formed an iconic partnership with Rio Ferdinand at centre-back, the defensive duo a complimentary blend of aerial prowess, power, strength and speed.

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Vidic captained the club to their record-breaking 19th and 20th top-flight title wins before departing for Inter Milan. He made 300 appearances across eight-and-a-half seasons in English football.

Iconic Duos: The Tank and The Rolls Royce, Vidic and Ferdinand

Wayne Rooney (2014-2017)

Wayne Rooney was named as captain following the appointment of Louis van Gaal as manager and won three major trophies while wearing the armband, leading the club to FA Cup, Europa League and League Cup success.

Rooney became Manchester United’s all-time record goalscorer during a glittering career with the club, one which saw the forward score 253 goals in all competitions to surpass Bobby Charlton’s record.

He won five league titles and is one of just two English players – alongside former team-mate Michael Carrick – to have won a clean sweep of major honours, having won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, League Cup, Europa League, and FIFA Club World Cup.

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One of just three players to have scored 200+ goals in the Premier League, he is the third-highest goalscorer in the league’s history.

Michael Carrick (2017-2018)

Michael Carrick was Rooney’s successor as captain, but made just five appearances during his sole season wearing the armband after undergoing treatment to correct an irregular heart rhythm.

Carrick’s career came to an end at the conclusion of the 2017/18 campaign with the midfielder moving onto the coaching staff at Old Trafford. He did so as one of the most under-appreciated players of the Premier League era, having been a metronomic figure in a series of successes for Manchester United.

He made 464 appearances in all competitions, lifted five Premier League titles, and joined Rooney in completing a clean sweep of major honours with an English club.

Midfield Magicians: The under-rated metronome, Michael Carrick

Antonio Valencia (2018-2019)

Antonio Valencia proved to be a fine servant for Manchester United during a decade with the club and was named captain during his final season with the side.

The Ecuadorian struggled with fitness issues during the 2018/19 season and made just six appearances in the Premier League. He departed to return to his homeland with L.D.U. Quito at the end of the season, bringing the curtain down on a career that saw him make 339 appearances for the Red Devils.

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Ashley Young (2019)

Ashley Young replaced Valencia as club captain but spent just a matter of months in the role. The winger-turned-full-back was given the honour ahead of the 2019/20 season, but was sold to Inter Milan during the January transfer window.

He won a Serie A title with the Italian side before returning to England with spells at Aston Villa and Everton.

Harry Maguire (2019-2023)

Harry Maguire inherited the armband following Young’s mid-season sale to Inter Milan, with the centre-back rewarded after a strong start to his debut season.

Maguire had arrived in an £80m world-record deal from Leicester and began brightly in his new surroundings, but his fortunes have since declined with form and confidence issues.

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Maguire’s erratic performances have led to a loss of status at Manchester United and he made just eight league starts during the 2022/23 campaign, after losing his place in the side under Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman has since informed Maguire of his decision to change captain ahead of the upcoming season, with the England international expected to move on.

Read – Five of the best Premier League kits released this summer

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