Wayne Rooney will captain Manchester United this season
Louis van Gaal confirms appointment after friendly win over Valencia
Wayne Rooney has been named Manchester United captain by new manager Louis van Gaal, the club announced.
The 28-year-old England striker succeeds Nemanja Vidic after the Serbia defender left United at the end of last season to join Inter Milan.
“For me it’s always very important the choice of captain,” said Van Gaal in a club statement issued after United’s 2-1 friendly win against Valencia at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
“Wayne has shown a great attitude towards everything he does. I have been very impressed by his professionalism and his attitude to training and to my philosophy,” the Dutchman explained.
“He is a great inspiration to the younger members of the team and I believe he will put his heart and soul into his captaincy role.”
Rooney, who could now also become captain of England following Steven Gerrard’s retirement from international football, said: “It is a huge honour for me – and for my family – to be named captain of this great club.
“It is a role I will perform with great pride. Team spirit has always been very high in our dressing room and I am very grateful to the manager for the faith he has shown in me. I look forward to leading the team out on Saturday at our first match of the new season.”
Van Gaal, who formally took charge at Old Trafford last month after guiding the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup, said Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher, whom he labelled a “natural leader” would be the team’s vice-captain and lead the side in Rooney’s absence.
“I am delighted to have been named as vice-captain,” Fletcher said. “It’s a very proud moment for me and my family.
“Wayne and I have always worked well together and we will continue to work closely together in our new roles. I would like to thank the manager for putting his trust in me.”
Substitute Marouane Fellaini scored in second-half stoppage time as Manchester United beat Valencia 2-1 in Van Gaal’s first home game.
Despite the late victory, van Gaal was critical of his team ahead of the start of the season.
“I think it was our worst match today. There was a lot of wrong choices, wrong passes and we didn’t press so good,” said the United boss.
However he was quick to praise the home crowd after walking out at Old Trafford for the first time.
“Fantastic. They [the fans] are shouting and screaming your name,” noted the 62-year-old
Rooney spurned the chance to give the hosts a first-half lead, when his penalty was saved by goalkeeper Diego Alves in the 32nd minute. Rooney had seconds earlier been felled in the penalty area by defender Antonio Barragan.
United broke the deadlock shortly after the restart when Fletcher slotted home from the edge of the area. Ashley Young’s 49th minute corner eventually fell into his path and the Scottish international netted albeit with the aid of a deflection.
The visitors were undeterred, and continued to press forward in search of a goal. They were deservedly rewarded in the 71st when Rodrigo blazed a first-time volley into the roof of the net following a free-kick.
Moments later, substitute Pablo Piatti poked a shot wide from close range. After being picked out by Jose Gaya on the left wing, he slid his attempt past David De Gea’s right-hand post and the La Liga side were left to rue that miss when Fellaini struck late on.
“At the end we are the winner because we are fighting to the last minute and that is also a good signal I believe,” added Van Gaal.