Friday 24 November 2017

'Fantastic' Van Persie all set for Reds' captaincy

Van Gaal hails his Dutch master as United prepare to finally unveil their new manager

Mark Ogden

LOUIS VAN GAAL has given a clear indication of plans to consider Robin van Persie as his Manchester United captain by describing the forward as a "fantastic" leader after his stunning goal spared the Netherlands from defeat against Ecuador in Amsterdam.

With Van Gaal having agreed a three-year contract to succeed David Moyes as United manager, the club are hoping finally to confirm his appointment today and draw a line under the uncertainty that has enveloped Old Trafford since Moyes' dismissal last month.

Minor tax details, plus a delay in resolving the future of interim manager Ryan Giggs and coaches Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Chris Woods, forced United to shelve plans to announce Van Gaal as manager last week.

But, with the Dutch squad given a rest day today before flying to Portugal for a training camp, it is understood that United, Van Gaal and the Dutch Football Federation would prefer to tie up the appointment in the next 24 hours before World Cup preparations intensify.

Despite the absence of public confirmation of his appointment by United, Van Gaal is believed to be relaxed about the situation, having been told that the job is his.

Van Gaal's discussions with Giggs in Holland last week, during which the 40-year-old was offered a coaching role under the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach, emphasised his attempts to plan for his arrival at Old Trafford.

But with Giggs on holiday in Dubai and Neville, Scholes, Butt and Woods yet to be given an indication of their possible involvement under Van Gaal by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, the final stumbling block to an announcement of his appointment has still to be cleared.

United may choose to confirm Van Gaal and then resolve the futures of the coaches, however, in order to allow the 62-year-old to focus fully on the World Cup without having to field questions about his future.

Van Persie's role under Van Gaal is likely to be a central one, though, with the mutual respect between the coach and former Arsenal striker abundantly clear.

Having earned the Netherlands a 1-1 draw against Ecuador with a chest-trap and volleyed goal, Van Persie's contribution was praised by Van Gaal, who delivered a resounding show of support for his qualities as captain.


"Robin is my captain," Van Gaal said. "He is my top scorer in the 18 months that he has played under me.

"He became all-time top scorer of the Dutch team, he plays superb football and, even coming back from a bad injury, he scores a fantastic, unbelievable goal.

"I was happy with his performance, but he is also a fantastic captain. I think you always make a player captain when you have the same morals and philosophy.

"Not only about football and tactics and what is happening on the pitch but about life. I think that's very important and I believe that Van Persie and Van Gaal share the same philosophy."

Van Persie, while avoiding discussing Van Gaal's imminent appointment directly, suggested that he was optimistic about United's future.

"I followed everything from a distance, as the club had allowed me to do my rehab in Holland," Van Persie stated.

"It was good to have some distance because it's been a tough year.

"For the first time in my career, I won't be playing in Europe.

"It was a huge difference between this season and the last one, but it's our job to switch a button now. Everything is going to be all right with the club."

Patrice Evra, meanwhile, is expected to clarify his intentions this week, with the Frenchman due to become a free agent next month.

Evra is keen to remain at United, and Van Gaal is understood to be hopeful of retaining the defender's leadership qualities following the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, but the left-back had recently considered a return to France for personal reasons.

United have an option to extend Evra's contract, however, and discussions are continuing. (©Daily Telegraph)

Indo Sport

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport