Louis van Gaal has hailed Wayne Rooney’s captaincy skills and says that he has exceeded all expectations since taking the role full-time last summer.
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The Manchester United manager made the decision to hand Rooney the captain’s armband ahead of the season opener against Swansea last season, following the departure of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra from the squad at Old Trafford.
After initial doubts by some fans and media about Rooney’s temperament for the role, van Gaal has put that to rest by admitting he’s been surprised at how well Rooney has done.
“”I could not expect more,” said the United manager.
“I think he is a great captain, better than I had expected. He is fully accepted by the players and that’s also very important because I can choose but the players decide. That’s my philosophy: the players have to accept the captains and the first captain is Wayne Rooney and the second captain is Michael Carrick and, last year, the third captain was [Chris] Smalling.”
As van Gaal mentioned being accepted by the players, Chris Smalling (who was also present at the press conference) spoke to the press to praise the 29 year old striker saying the player’s at Manchester United ‘are lucky to have him’.
“I think even when he was captain previously he was someone we all look up to because he is our leader on the pitch,” said Smalling
“Obviously, now he has got the armband we all follow him and we are very lucky to have him as captain.”
Rooney was named Manchester United and England captain last season and was praised on multiple occasions for his team talks before games and his leadership skills, despite some doubts.
During the defeat to Leicester he was seen berating young defender Tyler Blackett, with some saying that it was bad taste to pick out the youngest and most inexperienced member of the back four to take aim at. However, it was pointed out many times that had that been Nemanja Vidic or Roy Keane (as it was on many occasions) then it would have been deemed to be setting high standards.
Rooney isn’t the most popular man in the squad following his two transfer requests during his tenure at Old Trafford but he is without doubt one of the stand-out candidates for the armband. With the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger he now was competition but as the senior squad member at the club he deserves it and I for one, am glad that he is proving his many critics wrong and proving to be a good captain for the club.