LVG praises Rooney in comeback win
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has praised Wayne Rooney after the striker helped his side bounce back from a 1-0 deficit to beat arch-rivals Liverpool 3-1 to win the International Champions Cup preseason tournament on Monday night.
After a slow beginning at Miami's Sun Life Stadium, Rooney sparked United's charge in the second half by calmly tucking away Javier Hernandez's cross in the 55th minute. It was his fifth goal of the tour, and the England international was later named player of the tournament.
"He's always a winner," Van Gaal said at his post-match news conference. "I think he deserved to win the award because he made a lot of assists and scored goals. But we also defended well -- there are a lot of defenders who could also have been the most valuable player of this tournament.
"For Rooney, the goal was very important. It was a wonderful goal. You see the attack and what he did to push the ball under the legs of the goalkeeper and also in the corner. It was also a great cross from Chicharito."
Not only did Rooney win player of the tournament, but he was also given United's captain's armband for the final, although Van Gaal played down the significance in his choice in leader.
"I'm always looking for opportunities to give players the captain's armband," he said. "Today, Rooney played 90 minutes for the first time. Fletcher has already done it twice and therefore he was the captain. Cleverley also played 90 minutes."
The win bagged the Dutchman's first trophy as Manchester United boss, but he insisted that his sole focus was on the visit of Swansea to Old Trafford on Aug. 16.
"I think we gave a lot of pleasure to the fans and that's very important," he said.
"Of course, it's better to win than to lose in preseason but the most important game is against Swansea City. That's the one we have to win."
Antonio Valencia was substituted early in the match having aggravated a leg injury, although Van Gaal revealed that the move was precautionary.
"Valencia had feelings in his leg," the boss said. "I had told him before the game that you have to listen to your body. The accumulation of tiredness in this tournament is high.
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"All the players want to play but you have to be clever and he was clever to step out. When you're feeling something in your leg, you have to pay attention to it."
Juan Mata also played a starring role in the International Champions Cup final -- scoring United's second goal which sent them ahead.
The Spanish midfielder said the team is slowly adapting their new system under Van Gaal, and the U.S. tour had been a success.
"It's been a great tour and I think we've played very well," he told the Miami Herald. "We're still trying to adapt to the new system, the new way of playing that the manager has brought with him... I know it's a friendly (tournament) but it's important to get off to a good start before the season."