Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes Wayne Rooney will put his ‘heart and soul’ into the club after giving him the honour of the captain’s armband.
The departure of defender Nemanja Vidic to Inter Milan this summer had left a void at Old Trafford that the Dutchman had taken his time in filling.
And Van Gaal, who has been impressed by Rooney so far in pre-season, is confident that the England international can take the club to bigger and better things.
“For me, it’s always very important, the choice of captain,” the ex-Holland coach told manutd.com.
“Wayne has shown a great attitude towards everything he does and I have been very impressed by his professionalism, his attitude to training and to my philosophy.
“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 scored 19 goals last season, could also be in the frame for the England armband after Steven Gerrard retired – but is currently focusing on taking United back to the Premier League summit.
“It is a huge honour for me – and for my family – to be named captain of this great club,” said the 28-year-old.
“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.”
Very proud to be named captain of @ManUtd. Huge honour and I can’t wait to lead the team out on Saturday for our first game of the season
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) August 13, 2014
Van Gaal also announced that Darren Fletcher will become vice-captain, praising the Scottish international as a ‘natural leader’.
“Darren is a natural leader and will captain the team when Wayne isn’t playing,” added Van Gaal.
“Darren is a very experienced player and a very popular member of the dressing room, I know he will work well alongside Wayne.”
Fletcher, who returned to first-team action last season after battling a chronic bowel condition for almost two years, will begin his 14th season at the club and his proud to work as Rooney’s deputy.
“I am delighted to have been named as vice-captain,” he 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.”
Van Gaal led his team to a 2-1 victory over Valencia last night in his first game at Old Trafford – and ensured they maintained their 100% winning record during pre-season.
But despite the result, the new boss saw his side struggle to replicate their Stateside form in front of an expectant home crowd.
“I think it was our worst match today. We did not play to the capacity that we showed in the United States too much,” he said.
“There were a lot of wrong choices, wrong passes. We didn’t press so good but I think Valencia is a very good team, very comfortable on the ball and not so easy to press against.
“I think at the end we were the winners because we were fighting until the last minute and that is a good signal.”
Both the new skipper and his right-hand man were influential in the game, as Rooney missed a penalty before Fletcher’s deflected shot put United ahead early in the second half.
Valencia’s Rodrigo capitalised on a mistake from Tom Cleverley to equalise though, before much-maligned substitute Marouane Fellaini scored a stoppage-time winner – his first goal in a red shirt.
United begin their Premier League campaign against Swansea this Saturday.
Main image courtesy of bwin via YouTube, with thanks.