Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal surprised many when he made Tom Cleverley captain for the recent pre-season friendly against Roma.
And the Dutchman has hinted he could spring another surprise when United face Inter Milan on Wednesday.
Speaking in his press conference prior to the match, van Gaal said, “It's the ones who play 90 minutes. Tomorrow, Smalling will play 90 minutes. Maybe he'll be captain."
Van Gaal may have smiled afterwards - and the player in question may have been sitting next to his boss at the time - but it seems clear that the new United manager has arrived at the club with no preconceptions of the squad he has inherited.
Having given the much-maligned Cleverley the captaincy last weekend, and hailing the equally criticised Marouane Fellaini as a "quality" player, the United boss has now tipped another who had been linked with the exit for a stint as leader of the team.
It is this approach to man-management that suggests United have found the right man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. And whoever is the captain against Inter, and more importantly, whoever takes the role next season, it is clear van Gaal is managing United his way, which can only be a good thing moving forward.
On the captaincy in #mutour games: "It's the ones who play 90 mins. Tomorrow Smalling will play 90 mins. Maybe he'll be captain... [smiles]"— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 29, 2014