Wayne Rooney has been named as the new captain of Manchester United by manager Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal made the announcement following United’s final preseason friendly against Valencia, when Rooney skippered the side to a 2-1 victory courtesy of Marouane Fellaini’s late goal. The England international, who is also in the running to skipper the national side in the wake of Steven Gerrard’s international retirement, takes over the role from Nemanja Vidic, who departed for Inter Milan in the summer.
Midfielder Darren Fletcher has been named as the club’s vice-captain after van Gaal handed a number of different players the armband in preseason. Rooney told the club’s official website: "It is a huge honor for me — and for my family — to be named captain of this great club. It is a role I will perform with great pride."
Rooney continued: "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 added: "For me, it’s always very important the choice of captain. 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. 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.
"Darren Fletcher will become the vice-captain. Darren is a natural leader and will captain the team when Wayne isn’t playing. Darren is a very experienced player and a very popular member of the dressing room, I know he will work well alongside Wayne."
And Fletcher said: "I am delighted to have been named as vice-captain. 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, who signed a three-year contract to succeed David Moyes at Old Trafford, had enjoyed a strong preseason winning all five of the club’s matches on their tour of the United States.
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.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.