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Premier League

Manchester United manager latest: Wayne Rooney could miss out on captaincy and drop behind Robin van Persie in pecking order if Louis van Gaal is appointed

Rooney had been earmarked as the next United captain under David Moyes but the Dutch manager is favourite to take over at Old Trafford and would find it difficult to overlook Van Persie

Louis van Gaal’s possible appointment as Manchester United manager could hamper Wayne Rooney’s role as lead striker due to the close relationship between the current Netherlands manager and the national team captain Robin van Persie.

Rooney has netted doubles against West Ham, Aston Villa and Norwich recently having returned to his role as a striker rather than a floating attacking midfielder playing behind the frontman, although Danny Welbeck has featured ahead of his England team-mate on occasion.

But the striker is reported to be worried that Van Gaal’s appointment could lead to him becoming a clear second choice to Van Persie just like he was in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year in charge last season. On that occasion, Rooney nearly left the club, before David Moyes’ arrival as manager prompted him to sign a £300,000-a-week contract extension until 2018.

Chelsea mounted a pursuit for Rooney last summer when Jose Mourinho felt he could prise the forward away from Old Trafford due to his unhappiness under Ferguson, but Moyes’ short reign as United manager has appeared to transform Rooney, who has cut a much happier and relaxed figure this season. There were even reports that he was set to take on the captain’s armband next season when Nemanja Vidic leaves the club to head to Inter Milan.


With Carlo Ancelotti ruling himself out of the running for the vacant manager’s seat at United, Van Gaal is the overwhelming favourite to take control of the club when his duties with the Netherlands team are finished following the World Cup this summer. But given his relationship with Van Persie, it would be very hard for the 62-year-old to overlook the Dutch striker for the captaincy as well as assuming the role as first-choice striker.

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There is a hope that United officials can structure a deal that will see Van Gaal appointed before May 7 when he is set to begin his preparations for the tournament in Brazil, as United are desperate not to repeat the mistakes made last summer when Moyes’ late arrival saw the club miss out on a number of potential transfer targets.

With moves for Southampton’s Luke Shaw, Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas and Paris St-Germain’s Edinson Cavani set to be explored in the coming weeks, United will need a man in charge sooner rather than later, and given Van Gaal’s current commitments, that could play in to the hands of interim manager Ryan Giggs’ hopes of receiving the job on a permanent basis.

The club are hopeful on keeping the veteran midfielder on their coaching staff with a view to appointing him as a permanent manager in the not too distant future, but Van Gaal will likely bring in his own coaching team and whether he will be willing to accommodate the Welshman is unknown.