Louis van Gaal gave a typically composed and classy interview in his press conference ahead of the Swansea game in The Premier League opener on Saturday lunchtime.
He answered questions about his decision to give Wayne Rooney the captaincy:
‘I’ve made him captain because of his attitude on the pitch and the training ground.
‘Not so much outside the pitch, but I’ve told him that is important to me and he’s accepted his responsibility.
‘I’ve liked very much how he has trained and performed so far and how he has behaved to his fellow players.
The Biggest challenge that he faces this season:
“We have to give pleasure to the fans because that’s the most important thing,”
And the injury list:
‘Nine players are injured and I’m not nervous. We have beaten everyone so far but tomorrow is the one that counts.’
Those injuries, twinned with a lack of activity in the market, are causing concern for Manchester United fans.
The list of players who are confirmed as unavailable include RvP, Luke Shaw, Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck, Sam Johnstone and Micheal Carrick.
However, he did give a really encouraging update with regards Brazilian full-back Rafael da Silva. He told MUTV:
“Rafael is available. He was injured but now he is available. Yesterday, he trained and it was good but I have to wait to see if there was a reaction. So he can play when I want to play him.”
This means that many of LvG’s selection decisions have been made for him. His biggest headache seems to be in the wing back areas, where he is particularly short right now. Valencia and Rafael would normally have competed for the role on the right. We hope that Rafa gets thrown in at the deep end and plays from the start on the right. But, if he’s not deemed to have had enough training, Ashley Young will probably get the nod, with Reece James on the left.
At centre back, expect a start for Tyler Blackett on the left of the three with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling operating in the other berths.
The midfield too, pretty much picks itself, with Herrera, Fletcher and Mata all fit to start the game.
Up top, Welbeck and RvP are unavailable meaning that Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez will surely start against Swansea.
So here is our prediction for the league opener for Manchester United. United fans: is this team strong enough to take the points?
Manchester United (3-4-1-2): De Gea, Blackett, Jones, Smalling – Young, Fletcher, Herrera, Rafa – Mata – Rooney, HernandezFollow @soccersweep10