Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will always play when fit, indicating that Robin van Persie could find himself dropped to the bench over the forthcoming weeks.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, Van Gaal told reporters that only two players were assured of their positions in his starting line-up: Rooney and David de Gea.
“My captain shall always play and the goalkeeper also - that is not a surprise,” Van Gaal commented. “I don’t think any players are fixed. Only the captain has the privileges but no other player. Every player knows that and when you see how I manage my team, it is like that.”
Van Gaal to drop Van Persie?
Rooney has been deployed as one of two strikers by Van Gaal so far this season, and that’s unlikely to change after his impressive performance in the 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
Juan Mata, meanwhile, is expected to continue in the ‘No. 10’ position, having scored eight goals in his last ten Premier League appearances.
This leaves Van Gaal with a dilemma, presuming the veteran Dutch coach continues playing with two strikers: does he persist with the out-of-sorts Van Persie or hand a first start to loan signing Radamel Falcao?
United fans eager to see Falcao
United fans are eager to see the Colombia international in action this weekend after his cameo appearance in the victory over QPR - a match in which Van Persie was arguably the Red Devils’ most disappointing player.
The Dutch striker, who helped United land the 20th league title in his debut campaign with the Red Devils, has made three appearances so far this season and has looked off the pace every time.
Van Gaal may decide to take Van Persie out of the firing line, while handing a first start to the world-class Falcao in the process.
Switch to 4-3-3 possible
The United boss did, however, also suggest that he could deploy a 4-3-3 formation in the near future in order to give the team more width.
Should this happen then it’s possible that Mata could miss out on a starting place, with Rooney dropping into the playmaker role and one of Van Persie or Falcao spearheading the team’s forward line.
Manchester United fans: give us your score predictions and predicted line-ups in the comments section below.