• Premier League

Van Gaal: No United guarantees - except captain Rooney

ESPN staff
September 19, 2014
Fresh challenge for Di Maria

Louis van Gaal has said there are no automatic choices in his new-look Manchester United team but revealed Wayne Rooney may get preferential treatment because he is captain.

The Dutchman completed a £152 million overhaul of United's squad when he made six summer signings in recruiting Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao and would also be open in bringing back Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford.

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Van Gaal has faced questions how he will fit everyone in, especially in the attacking positions, but refused to guarantee players such as Falcao, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata a place.

Van Gaal said: "I don't think any player is fixed, only the captain has more privileges but no other player has privileges and every player knows that."

Rooney was named captain by Van Gaal after former skipper Nemanja Vidic left for Inter Milan and, while vice-captain Darren Fletcher has lost his place, the England international has stayed in the side so far.

Mata has scored eight goals in his last 10 United games but Van Gaal refused to offer him reassurances about his position, while he denied it is a straight choice between Falcao and Van Persie.

He added: "I don't think that Falcao interferes with Van Persie or Van Persie interferes with Falcao. I think Falcao is a very good striker. I like Van Persie also; he is also a very good striker."

Mata is one of four ever-presents in United's Premier League campaign, along with Rooney, David De Gea and young defender Tyler Blackett.

Van Gaal said: "There are, always in a team, players who you put in a line-up. My captain shall always play and normally a goalkeeper also so that is not a surprise. Blackett is maybe a surprise that he plays all the games but he is doing very well. Mata is a very good player."

Van Gaal also said that defender Chris Smalling is back in contention for Sunday's game against Leicester.

The England international suffered a groin injury in August's 1-1 draw at Sunderland but his manager, who has been bemoaning United's injury crisis said: "I have only six injuries now so it is going good. Smalling is back."

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