Will United surge towards the top four with 14 games to go?

Louis van Gaal names Wayne Rooney as Manchester United’s new captain


Darren Fletcher’s longevity at Manchester United made him a frontrunner, while Robin van Persie’s connection to new manager Louis van Gaal cast him as a logical choice, too. Yet given his stature at the club, Wayne Rooney always had a prominent place in the discussion about the team’s next captain.

Today, the long-time Red Devil attacker was given the captain’s armband, with the team’s new boss selecting the 28-year-old Rooney to succeed the departed Nemanja Vidic.

“It is a huge honour for me – and for my family – to be named captain of this great club, Rooney said, via the club’s website. “It is a role I will perform with great pride.”

Vidic, name the club captain in the wake of Gary Neville, left for Inter Milan this spring after declining to sign a new deal with the club. While Rooney had expressed his hope of being named captain, Fletcher is the club’s longest tenured player, while van Persie was given the captaincy of his national team when van Gaal assumed the Netherlands’ national team job.

Praising the approach Rooney’s brought to the preseason, van Gaal decided on the England international, calling him an inspiration to the younger players in the squad. From the team’s web site:

“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.

Rooney, who joined United from Everton in 2004, will make his debut as permanent captain this weekend against Swansea City. His words:

“Team spirit has always been very high in our dressing room and I am very grateful to the manager for the faith he has shown in me. I look forward to leading the team out on Saturday at our first match of the new season.”

Van Gaal also named Fletcher the club’s vice-captain, with the Scotland international calling the appointment “a very proud moment for me and my family.”

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.