Wayne Rooney wins race to skipper re-emerging Man Utd ship
Pre-season for Manchester United, who are an industry best 5/1 to win the Premier League this coming season, for the players has been about more than just regaining fitness.
New boss Louis van Gaal has come in to try and revitalise the Red Devils, who failed miserably under David Moyes last term, and has begun in promising fashion so far. The Dutchman, who is the first United manager not from the British Isles, led his side through pre-season undefeated, against the likes of European giants Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Roma, Liverpool and Valencia.
After weeks of assessment and a promise to carefully select a new captain, Van Gaal has finally gone with the club’s third highest top scorer Wayne Rooney, just days before the Red Devils’ first game of the season against Swansea City. Academy graduate and Scotland international Darren Fletcher, meanwhile, has been appointed his deputy
Former Everton star Rooney, who is also tipped to be next England skipper (odds-on favourite at 1/4), said: “It is a huge honour for me, and for my family, to be named captain of this great club. It is a role I will perform with great pride.
“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 [August 16th] at our first match of the new season.”
Forward Rooney replaces departed defender Nemanja Vidic, who has moved on to Inter Milan, and it seems he is now finally fully committed to the club, after also just signing a new four-year deal in February 2014. He has not, however, always enjoyed life at Old Trafford, after reportedly asking to leave on two previous occasions, in 2010 and 2013.
But there is no doubt the England superstar receives the utmost respect from his peers, though, with his performances inspiring victories time and time again. So is he really ready the lead the most successful and commercial club in English football history? Has he put all his misdemeanours and tantrums behind him?
Rooney’s experience and knowledge of the club, for whom he signed for 10 years ago as a teenager, is now vast, having being heavily involved in one of United’s most successful periods in history. He has turned out for the Red Devils on 442 occasions, scoring 216, and is likely to surpass club legends this season such as Rio Ferdinand (455 appearances), Bryan Robson (461), Mark Hughes (467), George Best (470) and Roy Keane (480).
In his decade at Old Trafford, Rooney has won a whopping 13 trophies, including five Premier League titles, the Champions League and two League Cups.
Van Gaal, who was previously said to want his former Netherlands captain Robin van Persie to skipper the side, 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.”
With the hierarchy now established in Man Utd’s squad, they can look forward to the new campaign against the Swans, who they are odds-on favourites at 1/3 to beat at Old Trafford. Rooney is a 3/1 shot to net first in that encounter.