• Premier League

Van Gaal full of praise for Rooney

ESPN staff
August 10, 2014
Wayne Rooney scored four goals during Manchester United's pre-season tour of the US © Getty Images

New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has praised Wayne Rooney for his accomplishments during the pre-season.

But the Dutchman warned that physical fitness and conditioning would be a major factor in who makes his starting XI when United face Swansea City in their Premier League season opener on August 16.

Van Gaal said he always admired Rooney when he managed against him and that he is equally impressed with the four goals the striker has scored in his three pre-season appearances.

"He is always working very hard, has a high level and can make goals. He did that in America, four goal in his first three matches is not so bad I think!" Van Gaal told the Mail on Sunday.

But Van Gaal added: "We have to wait and see, we are now in the beginning of the preparation. The physical training will go on before our first league match."

That comment could be a veiled reference to the fact that in seasons' past Rooney's fitness has fluctuated and occasionally affected his performance, a time-to-time gripe of former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Now Van Gaal must find a way to get Rooney and his Netherlands countryman Robin van Persie to co-exist up front in the United attack, a dilemma that neither Ferguson nor his successor at Old Trafford, David Moyes, seemed able to do in full.

Van Persie is still on leave as part of a post-World Cup break from his Netherlands side that reached the tournament semi-finals in Brazil. But it seems likely that Van Gaal - who has both the people skills to work with individual players and the tactical sense to prepare teams for any opponents - might be the ideal candidate to get Rooney and Van Persie to gel.

"Every system has been tried before in football. It's how you prepare your team to do against the system of the opponents, that is the thing that always makes the difference," he said.

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