Michael Carrick says he is enjoying playing the vice-captain role at Manchester United after replacing fellow midfielder Darren Fletcher in the role before Christmas.
Van Gaal confirmed Carrick had picked up an injury that would keep him out for several months during his unveiling back in the summer but his return to the team coincided with a sharp upturn in form for the team as a whole.
United won six on the bounce with Carrick back in the side and the midfielder is happy to be held in high regard by his new boss.
“I had a chat to the manager about it [being named vice-captain] and it’s great for me for him to think like that,” Carrick told ManUtd.com and MUTV.
“It’s probably a natural thing with me being one of the older players and more experienced, that’s the natural step – it’s great. I managed to be captain when Wayne missed a game [Stoke in December], which was nice, but it’s not the be all and end all of everything. It’s achieving things with the team that means more to me, but it’s nice to be recognised.”
Carrick has played regularly at centre-back this season as he appears to be the only player with any ability on the ball when van Gaal plays three at the back but in midfield the 33-year-old has been as influential as he was during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season.
Former vice-captain Fletcher has been linked with a move away this month given his contract expires at the end of the current season.