A forgone conclusion?
It was announced on Tuesday evening following Van Gaal’s first game at Old Trafford as Manchester United manager that Rooney would be given the armband on a permanent basis, having twice skippered the side during pre-season.
Rooney had long been expected to be made the long-term successor to Nemanja Vidic following the announcement that the veteran defender would leave, but this became far more uncertain after the departure of David Moyes.
Van Gaal’s appointment resulted in Robin van Persie being earmarked as favourite for the position given that he was the captain of the Netherlands under the same coach, but it is Rooney who has received the honour.
And, as Van Gaal has revealed, it was the performances and attitude of Rooney during Manchester United’s pre-season tour of the USA that resulted in the England international’s ascension to captain.
Van Gaal on his decision
"His attitude, of course. That is more on the pitch and on the training ground. Not so much off the pitch but I have explained to him that off the pitch is also very important to me,” Van Gaal explained, as reported by Goal.com.
"He accepted the responsibility and I like him very much: how he trained and also how he performed in the games, how he performed to his fellow players."
Van Gaal does, however, he had lingering doubts right up to the final hours before the announcement.
"On Tuesday, I said to him that maybe it is too much for him to be captain," he added.
"But let it fly, I said, let it fly. In the US, he scored a lot of goals and made a great amount of assists. I want to see that Wayne."
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The right man?
Rooney, of course, already had experience of captaining his club having done so on occasion under both Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes, and there is no doubt that the 28-year-old has earned the privilege on a full-time basis.
Detractors will point towards the way in which he has twice supposedly pursued as a reason that he would be undeserving of the armband, but his contributions over a decade ensure he is held in mostly high regard.
There is also a sense that Rooney will really thrive in this role and, with an excellent pre-season under his belt, he would appear primed to produce one of his finest individual seasons to date.
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