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Gary Neville named Man Utd captain
Pete Oliver | December 03, 2005 11:28 IST
England defender Gary Neville has been appointed as the new captain of Manchester United, the club announced on Friday.
The long-serving Neville, 30, replaces Roy Keane who parted company from Old Trafford a fortnight ago.
Paul Scholes and Ruud Van Nistelrooy had both worn the captain's armband since Keane was injured in a game at Liverpool in mid-September.
But Neville, who has started over 450 games for United since coming through the club's youth scheme, now has the job on a permanent basis following his return to the side after a groin injury.
"I've had a chat with Ruud but I think it's the right decision, given the service Gary has given this club," said manager Alex Ferguson.
"Ryan [Giggs] was a consideration too. But Ryan is not going to play every week. You cannot expect him to run up and down the touchline like he does all the time.
"He will play a lot of games, but we need to keep some freshness in him. That is why I have reached the decision I have."
Van Nistelrooy, who captained the side five times, believes Ferguson has made the right decision.
"I took great pride in leading the team out in a difficult period," Van Nistelrooy told reporters on Friday.
"We had to bounce back from a 4-1 defeat at Middlesbrough and everything that happened after that.
"I enjoyed it a lot and did it with great pride but I would make the same decision as the manager.
"I think Gary is the perfect captain for our team. He has been at the club his whole life, he has won everything in football and has great experience and great character. You can't wish for any more in a captain."
Neville will make his first Premier League start since August when second-placed United host Portsmouth on Saturday evening.
With a decisive Champions League clash at Benfica looming next week, winger Giggs is also set to figure on Saturday following nine matches out with a fractured cheekbone.
"He will be involved, without question," Ferguson told a news conference. "With an important game on Wednesday in Benfica it's vital that Ryan gets some minutes on the clock.
"Whether he starts or comes on is a matter for consideration, but he will certainly be involved."
United's evening kickoff against Portsmouth means Ferguson will be able to attend the funeral of George Best, which is being held in his native Belfast on Saturday morning.
"It gives us an opportunity to meet George's family for the first time," he said. "It will be a very, very emotional day over there. You can just imagine what it's going to be like.
"There will be thousands and thousands of people there and then it's a rush back to Old Trafford for the game against Portsmouth, which is an important match for us."