Valencia set for captaincy as Manchester United prepare to cope without Lukaku
Jose Mourinho is happy with his skipper and says Alexis Sanchez is set for key forward role.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has signalled that Antonio Valencia is set to be club captain for the new season.
The responsibility was held by Michael Carrick, who retired from playing at the end of last term and joined United’s coaching team.
Carrick made only five appearances in 2017-18 and Valencia wore the captain’s armband on numerous occasions.
The 32-year-old full-back skippered the team in the 1-1 friendly draw with Club America in Arizona.
Mourinho said afterwards: “The captain was Valencia last season. I think he is going to be the captain.
“And when he doesn’t play, we have to make decisions – it depends who is on the pitch. If (Chris) Smalling is, or if Ashley Young is, or if (Ander) Herrera is, or if (Juan) Mata is, if they are on the pitch, they are an option.
“I think a guy like (Nemanja) Matic has all the attributes to be Manchester United captain but of course he arrived only one year ago.
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@antoniovalencia2525 captains #MUFC against Club America in our first #MUTOUR game! 👊 Starting XI: Grant, Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw, Herrera, McTominay, A Pereira, Mata, Mitchell, Martial. Subs: J Pereira, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Williams, Hamilton, Garner, Gomes, Chong, Bohui, Greenwood.
“But for me, I don’t care too much about the captaincy, I care more about the life in the dressing room and the leaders in the dressing room.”
Mourinho said he will “probably not” have Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford available for the start of the Premier League season.
The pair, who got to the semi-finals of the World Cup with Belgium and England respectively, are not on United’s pre-season tour as they take a post-tournament break.
Fellow forward Alexis Sanchez has been given the green light to join up with the squad in the United States.
Sanchez had initially been left in Manchester due to what the club said was a “personal administrative issue” – widely assumed to be a problem with his visa after he accepted a 16-month suspended prison sentence in Spain earlier this year over a tax issue.
Mourinho said in a press conference shown on Sky Sports News: “Today it was (Anthony) Martial. When Martial left the pitch, it was Mata (leading the attack). When Mata went to the sides, it was a kid that trained with us for the first time this pre-season (Mason Greenwood).
“There’s no Lukaku or Rashford – not here, and probably not even for the start of the Premier League.
“So it’s about when Alexis lands, and when he lands he has to play because he trained with us for five days before we departed to Los Angeles (on Sunday) and we left one fitness coach behind with him to keep training with him.
“Of course, it’s individual training but when he arrives, he has to play.”
Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young and Phil Jones were other United players involved in the World Cup’s last four.
United’s next match of the tour is against San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday in California.
Their opening Premier League fixture is on August 10 against Leicester at home.