The leadership group at Manchester United is now up to eight players, according to reports – including a veteran who has played only three times for the club.
United’s official club captain is centre-back Harry Maguire, although the armband is worn by Bruno Fernandes when the England defender is not on the pitch.
With Maguire linked with a move away from the club this summer, it could be that Fernandes is appointed permanent captain upon the 30-year-old’s departure.
But the Portuguese star is not the sole leader in United’s XI, even when wearing the armband. Manager Erik ten Hag, like a number of other Premier League bosses, consults a ‘leadership group’ made up of senior and experienced players when it comes to major decisions.
Arsenal follow a similar model. Despite Martin Odegaard being club captain, he works alongside Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Jesus, according to the Daily Mirror, as part of a three-player cohort.
And a new report claims that United have an even bigger leadership group – with one name linking the current squad with past eras at the club.
Man Utd leadership group expands
According to the Manchester Evening News, United’s ‘core group’ contains a total of eight players, with Maguire and Fernandes both involved.
The club’s second-longest serving player, David de Gea, is also consulted on decisions, as well as five-time Champions League winners Raphael Varane and Casemiro.
In addition, left-back Luke Shaw and forward Marcus Rashford are also included, with the pair two of United’s key players.
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The eighth and final name in United’s leadership group is goalkeeper Tom Heaton, who has played just three games for the club.
The 37-year-old came through the club’s academy and had six loan spells away from Old Trafford, including at Belgian side Royal Antwerp, before joining Cardiff permanently in 2010.
Since then, Heaton had spells at Bristol City, Burnley and Aston Villa – making over 100 Premier League appearances combined with the latter two clubs – before returning to Old Trafford on a free transfer in 2021 after recovering from a serious knee injury.
Having not played at all for United under Sir Alex Ferguson, the goalkeeper finally made his competitive debut in the Champions League in December 2021, replacing Dean Henderson in the 68th minute of a group stage fixture against Young Boys.
He has since made two more appearances for the club in this season’s Carabao Cup competition. A regular in United’s matchday squad, Heaton has been dealing with injury since March.
The MEN claim that he is included in the leadership group partially due to being a ‘worthy sounding board’ – and his connection to the dominant Ferguson era, where he spent time with the first team squad despite never making a competitive appearance.
Topics: Manchester United, Premier League, David De Gea, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Harry Maguire
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