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Van Gaal: RVP will be fine with Rooney decision

ESPN staff
August 16, 2014
A new era at Manchester United

Louis van Gaal is sure Robin van Persie will have no problem accepting Wayne Rooney as the new captain of Manchester United.

When Van Gaal was appointed United boss in May, bookmakers made Van Persie favourite to take the captain's armband at Old Trafford. The striker captained Van Gaal's Netherlands team at the World Cup and the two Dutchmen have a very good working relationship.

It came as something of a surprise, therefore, that the new manager named Rooney as his captain following the club's sixth and final win of pre-season.

Van Gaal, who named Darren Fletcher as vice-captain, did not tell Van Persie of his decision to his face, but the United boss is sure his compatriot will have no problem with the perceived snub.

"It was not difficult,'' Van Gaal said when asked if it was hard to overlook Van Persie. "I didn't say it to him. He was not there at that moment.

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"I told it personally to Wayne, then I had to choose the vice-captain, then I had to say it to my players. This is a different situation to the Dutch national team.

"I think you always have to choose a native captain. I don't think there's any problem."

Rooney has captained United on a handful of occasions during his 10-year spell at Old Trafford. The 28-year-old also wore the armband on Tuesday when United beat Valencia 2-1.

Rooney, who was told before the Valencia match he would be United's full-time skipper, put in a sub-par performance against the Spanish side and missed a penalty in the first half.

Van Gaal believes Rooney has the potential to be an excellent United captain, but the Dutchman thinks the striker must not be over-awed by the responsibility. He told Rooney that it might have felt like too much for him at first, but that he would settle into the role.

"He is very proud to be the captain," said Van Gaal. "I think he wanted to show more than the utmost best to the public that he is Wayne Rooney, the new captain. Then I said to him, 'Let it fly, let it fly'. It is more important how you perform and not the captaincy."

It was Rooney's work-rate and application in preseason that won him the honour of following in the footsteps of club greats such as Sir Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona.

But before he handed Rooney the armband, Van Gaal reminded the player - who has had his moments of ill-discipline in the past - he must be a fine ambassador for the club away from the field of play, as well as on it.

"His attitude, of course," Van Gaal said when asked why he selected Rooney. "That is on the pitch and on the training ground and I have explained to him also outside the pitch is also very important for me.

"And he accepted the responsibility and I like very much how he did train and also how he performed in the game and how he performed to his fellow players."

Van Gaal reiterated that taking United from seventh to first following last year's poor showing under David Moyes would not be easy.

And even though United have a relatively easy start to the season - beginning with Saturday's home fixture against Swansea - Van Gaal will not expect too much from his squad straightaway.

"It takes time," he said. "You are not champion in October. You are champion in May."

Wayne Rooney has been Louis van Gaal's choice of captain throughout pre-season © Getty Images
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