English Premiership

Rooney backed as captain

2014-08-15 21:17
Wayne Rooney (AFP)

Manchester - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has urged Wayne Rooney not to let the burden of the club's captaincy weigh heavily on his shoulders.

Van Gaal handed the armband to Rooney and he will skipper the Red Devils for the first time in a competitive match in their English Premier League opener against Swansea City on Saturday.

The Dutchman also revealed that he has warned Rooney to lead by example off the pitch as well, where his attitude has been questioned in the past.

"I said to Wayne maybe it was too much for you as a captain but 'let it fly' I say," Van Gaal said.

"Because in the United States in pre-season, he scored a lot of goals, made a great amount of assists so I wanted to say that to Wayne.

"Why was he picked as captain? His attitude, of course. And that more or less, more on the pitch and on the training ground and not so outside of the pitch, but I have explained to him also outside the pitch is also very important for me.

"He accepted the responsibility and I like very much how he trains and also how he performed in the friendly against Valencia and how he performed to his fellow players."

Van Gaal also reiterated his frustrations at United's demanding pre-season tour to the United States which has disrupted his preparations for the new season.

"We have started more or less in the US and not here," Van Gaal said. "Only a few players have trained here since 7 July and on 18 July we went to the US when I was here.

"Before that, my assistants were it and it was a small group. After a World Cup, all of the players are coming in different moments and it is very difficult to train.

"They are at different levels and we have a big staff so we can do that. But we also have to travel, we have also to deal with jetlag and a lot of matches in 14 days.

"There were not only 350,000 fans there, but we had to play five games. It is a lot. A human being cannot survive everything so it is also dependable on the player himself. I have given the reasons."

Van Gaal confirmed that Dutch striker Robin van Persie will not feature against Swansea as he builds up his match fitness.

He will also be without left-back Luke Shaw (hamstring) while defenders Jonny Evans (knock) and Antonio Valencia (leg) and striker Danny Welbeck (knee) are doubtful.

Despite the injury problems, Van Gaal will persist with a formation that includes three centre-back which means youngster Tyler Blackett is set to be given his debut while Reece James will start at left-wing back.

The United boss has also vowed to entertain the United supporters at Old Trafford as they prepare to get their first glimpse of his managerial regime against Swansea.

"I think that we can give pleasure to the fans - that is the most important thing," he added.

"That the fans shall understand how we play and the way of playing will give pleasure to them. Football nowadays is not just a commercial business but also to entertain the people.

"People are coming to the stadium. When there are no fans anymore nobody shall come, even the broadcasters won't come anymore, so it's very important we please the fans."

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