Rooney to captain Man Utd as Van Gaal reveals Fergie traits
Dutchman's 'Medusa stare' and a last minute winner fuel comparisons with former Old Trafford manager
Manchester United rounded off an encouraging pre-season under new manager Louis van Gaal with a last-gasp victory over Valencia in the Dutchman's first match in charge at Old Trafford, on a night when Wayne Rooney was named as club captain.
'King Louis', as Van Gaal has been dubbed, was given a rousing reception by the United crowd and was happy to sign autographs for the fans on his way to the dugout, but afterwards declared himself unhappy with the performance.
During the game, Rooney, prior to his anointment as skipper, missed a first-half penalty and Darren Fletcher's 49th minute goal was cancelled out by Rodrigo Moreno before much-maligned Belgian substitute Marouane Fellaini scored an injury-time winner.
"The main thing is we won, despite playing our worst game," said the manager afterwards.
The pundits, who were all on Van Gaal-watch, took plenty more than that from the match. "During the game he exuded calmness but possesses a Medusa stare to rival Sir Alex Ferguson's," notes Rob Bagchi in the Daily Telegraph.
The timing of the winner appears fateful, says the Daily Mail. "Late goals were a hallmark of Ferguson's teams and how fitting that Van Gaal's first appearance as United manager at Old Trafford should end with a stoppage-time winner."
The Sun notes that Fergie was absent from Old Trafford, meaning that Van Gaal began his reign "free from the spectre of Alex Ferguson", which had haunted David Moyes from the director's box. The paper adds that "United once again have a manager they can believe in".
He remained seated throughout the game, but "from the moment he emerged from the tunnel to a rousing reception, embraced mascot Fred the Red, and strode purposefully towards the dugouts while waving to the crowd, the erstwhile Netherlands coach was the centre of attention," says the BBC.
After the game Rooney described the captaincy as a "huge honour" and said it was "a role I will perform with great pride".
Van Gaal added: "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."
The Times believes it could be the start of a special season for Rooney, who is also set to be named as England captain by Roy Hodgson. The paper reports that the England manager "dropped his strongest hint" that Rooney would take over from the retired Steven Gerrard, but questioning Frank Lampard's future in the team.