Sunday 25 March 2018

Van Gaal delighted to have social Rooney in his kitchen cabinet

Rooney: embracing his leadership role
Rooney: embracing his leadership role

Richard Jolly

Louis van Gaal has insisted that he is no dictator, revealing that Wayne Rooney can make him change his mind.

The Manchester United captain is involved in wide-ranging discussions about all aspects of the club, and Van Gaal said their bond was much closer than a normal player-manager relationship, explaining he was open to persuasion by the striker.

Van Gaal is delighted with the way Rooney - who he appointed captain last year - has embraced his leadership role and feels the United squad benefit from their understanding.

"He is the most social guy and also very responsible," he said. "I think he trusts me, so that is very important. I trust him, so when he comes to me and has remarks I always pay attention to them. He also has the confidence to say things that are not always normal for players to say, so that is also good for the atmosphere in the dressing room.

"He fulfils my expectations unbelievably well. I am very happy and proud of him. As a player, he is the example for everybody because his mentality is from a very high level."

Van Gaal added their conversations covered everything from his choice of players to their food: "It is about things like the selection and the kitchen and the members of staff. Everything you can mention, he is involved."

The manager said his willingness to listen to confidants such as Rooney and vice-captain Michael Carrick proved he was not an autocrat.

"I am amazed you say I am single-minded," he added. "You have to come with good arguments to change my philosophy, but when you have a better argument than me I change. I am an open guy. I speak about everything, but also with all my other players."

Rooney opened his account for the season with a hat-trick against Club Brugge on Wednesday. He requires two goals for England against San Marino on Saturday to break Bobby Charlton's national record of 49.

Van Gaal, who was the Holland manager when Robin van Persie became their highest scorer, believes it would be an historic achievement to overtake the World Cup-winner. "It is very difficult to beat for other players," he said. "Then your name is in all the history books, so that is a fantastic feeling. I know it means a lot for Wayne. It meant a lot for Van Persie also because you are the only player who did that."

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