United captain Callum Guy carried out his first media duties as the man with the armband this week having been appointed to the role on Monday.
The popular midfielder became a firm favourite with the fans last season, with the 24-year-old receiving a wave of good wishes when the announcement was made.
With the equally popular Aaron Hayden as his vice, there’s a feeling around Brunton Park that the pair were the natural choice heading into the new campaign.
“The gaffer called me and Aaron in on Monday and I had a massive smile on my face when he told us,” the new skipper revealed. “It was a proud moment for me and my family and it’s something I’ve never had before.
“I had a taste of it a few times last year and ever since that I’ve been eager to be a leader. I want to show that in my performances and try to do it off the pitch as well.
“I was captain for a season in the under-23s at Derby, so that’s helped, I was one of the older lads in that group. But this is the first time at senior level.”
“I had a good long chat with the gaffer about what he expects,” he continued. “It’s not something I was expecting but it’s something I really wanted. I wanted to lead the team this season.
“The gaffer’s given me that chance, put the trust in me and I’m really thankful for that – and now I have to repay him.
“It’s a massive honour for me. It’s such a big club, a great club and obviously all the fans really appreciate the hard work you put in. I just want to repay the fans, the manager and the team for the faith they put in me.
“I definitely feel ready for a responsibility like this. Last season when I had the armband a few times it really spurred me on to try and nail down being the skipper for the whole season, and thankfully I’ve been given the opportunity to do that.”
As for taking on this new level of responsibility, he commented: “It’s a big thing, but I don’t think you want to change your personality too much, just be who you are.
“The main thing is how you lead on the pitch come Saturday at 3pm, that’s one of the main things, but it’s making sure the training’s spot-on because that helps in the games.
“I just want to be a good person that people can go and talk to if they ever need to. I want to lead by example on the pitch, which is one of the most important things, but also off the pitch, demanding high standards from the lads, making sure training’s right at it, which it has been.
“My personality won’t change too much, I’ll still be who I am in the changing room but when I step out on the pitch I’ll try to be the best leader I can.
“The good thing is I’ve got Aaron beside me. He showed last season that he knows what the captain and vice-
captain role is about, and he’s really proud that he’s carrying that on.
“We’ll work well together, and I know he’s pleased for us both. We’ll do what we need to do but it comes back to what we keep saying, we need everybody to be a leader in everything we do.
“The good thing is that I feel like I was quite vocal last year but having the armband is obviously a really good thing. I will repeat what the gaffer said, there needs to be 11 leaders out on the pitch, and leaders need to come off the bench as well.
“It shouldn’t just be one person leading the team, I think everyone has to do their bit.”
Accompanying the announcement was the aforementioned social media reaction, with a lot of love felt from the fan base.
“It makes it even more special because you’ve got the players, staff and your family who are really happy for you, and then the fans showing all the support on Twitter is an amazing feeling for me,” he admitted.
“My missus tweeted as well and she was so happy for me. She knows all the work I’ve put in, what I’ve been through, with past experiences and stuff like that. She’s been a rock for me and is probably the most proud for me.
“It’s just brilliant, I can’t wait to get going, and it’s even better with the fans being back in the stadium. You find that you’re counting down the days.
“Last season has been and gone now and I think it’s important for me to pick up where I left off from last season. From there I want to push on more as well.”
Despite having picked up a raft of end-of-season awards he was also quick to point that he stills feels there’s more to come from him, with him already targeting what he considers key areas for improvement.
“It’s all about trying to replicate last season, and adding a few bits on top,” he said. “There are still areas of my game I need to improve on, like scoring goals, so I can maybe get myself higher up the pitch.
“But it’s something I’ve been working on over the summer and hopefully I can put that into this season and get a few goals to my name.
“Like I say, with being captain I want to be more of a leader out on the pitch, so there will be more to come in different areas.
“I want to be there for the young players because we’ve all been young lads breaking through and sometimes you need somebody to go and speak to. If they ever need me I’ll be there to talk to them.”
And the pre-season build up gathers pace with the first game done and dusted on Tuesday, and a double-header against Hebburn and Workington this coming weekend.
“It was nice to get back out there on the pitch and play a proper game,” told us. “It was a good run-out for all the boys and a decent win. I thought we all looked sharp and it was a good start to pre-season.
“It was brilliant to have the fans there. They were quite loud when we scored and I was able to speak to a few of them after the game as well. We’re really excited for the first game of the season because hopefully it will be rocking here at our place. It’s fantastic that our first game is at home.
“We feel we’re in a really good place. The main core is here from last season and the gaffer has more than replaced the players we lost.
“They’ve shown in the few weeks they’ve been here what they’re capable of, and two of them scored on Tuesday, which is important. We gained a lot of experience with being where we were last year, and then what happened, so that will stand us in good stead.
“It’s competitive in midfield because there’s me, Joe, Jon, Danny and Charters and Dixon coming through. We’ve played together quite a few times and we’ve been working hard in training on our midfield drills. We’re a close-knit group again this year and all of this will only help us in the long run.”
“The pre-season games are coming thick and fast now,” he added. “This weekend is another chance for all of us to get minutes into legs.
“Hopefully we’ll put in another good performance and win the games. There’s plenty of friendlies to look forward to before we start the season, which is important.
“Players want to be touching 90 minutes before the first game so you know and you’re ready to get going.
“Running out with the armband on is going to be an amazing feeling. We’re constantly talking about it in the changing room, how excited we are to see the fans back in.
“There was quite a few at the game on Tuesday and it’s what football’s missed. Everyone says football’s nothing without the fans and it gives you that extra 10 per cent.
“Obviously we have Blackpool and that’s a game I’m looking forward to. It will be nice to get out there against one of my old clubs.”
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