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Mark van Bommel

‘I’m proud to be captain of this club’

Louis van Gaal took his time before choosing a club captain. “I’ll watch the team for four and a half weeks,” the coach said, but at the end of the day, there was no change: Mark van Bommel will wear the armband for the second season in a row. The boss and the player have now explained the background to the decision, and the qualities required of the skipper, although van Bommel in particular was at pains to play down the significance of the job.

Just as Van Gaal waited until the last minute before confirming Michael Rensing as first-choice keeper, the choice of captain was also left until just prior to the cup meeting with Neckarelz. The fans had to wait until the teams ran out at the Rhein-Neckar-Stadion before finding out the facts regarding two of the most significant positions in the team. Rensing is the number one, and van Bommel continues as captain.

Influential leader

“I saw that Mark has a huge influence on the team,” van Gaal reasoned. “He’s also a big supporter of my philosophy, my methods and my values. That matters to me.” The Bayern boss placed heavy emphasis on appointing an individual who also stood foursquare behind the coach’s approach to life away from the field, although games were ultimately the critical factor. “I need someone to represent me on the field,” Van Gaal said.

Germany international Philipp Lahm is the club’s vice-captain. “What I saw with Mark I also saw with him,” the coach explained. A third player to support and help Van Bommel and Lahm has yet to be identified. Van Gaal’s standard practice involves a three-man leadership team, but a decision has yet to be taken. “I need a little more time before settling on the third man.”

Team comes first

Miroslav Klose rates as a candidate for the role. “The coach has made his decision and you accept that,” the striker commented, expressing approval at van Bommel’s appointment. “It’s important that the player wearing the armband has something to say, and that’s the case with Mark and Philipp. Both are very popular figures.”

Van Bommel is delighted with the coach’s vote of confidence. “Obviously, you’re proud and delighted to be appointed captain of such a big club,” the midfielder said. The Dutch international now rates as first-choice in Van Gaal’s plans, as the boss said on his arrival at the club that his captain would always be picked to play.

Van Bommel declined to go into any great detail about that or other aspects of the appointment. “You shouldn’t be preoccupied with yourself the whole time, you should be thinking about the team,” the 32-year-old declared. And had he not been made skipper, not much would have changed, he argued. “I’ll keep doing what I always do: I try to help the team. It’s what I’ve always done, even when I’ve not been captain.”