Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hinted that Wayne Rooney could move back upfront after an ineffective spell in midfield.
The 29-year-old has not scored for the Red Devils in their previous eight matches in all competitions since moving into a deeper role. Furthermore he has not mustered a single shot on target or contributed an assist for Manchester United in the Premier League in 2015.
It’s understood that Rooney, the third-highest goalscorer in United’s history, will continue in his midfield role for this evening’s Premier League clash against Burnley at Old Trafford - although Van Gaal admits the situation could eventually change.
Van Gaal admits Rooney could move back upfront
"It can change every week," the experienced Dutch coach was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "It is dependable on the circumstances."
Van Gaal, who stunned journalists in his pre-match press conference on Monday with his long-balls ‘dossier’, went on to explain that he is in a no-win situation with so many talented strikers to choose from.
"When I am not lining up Falcao, you are asking 'where is Falcao?'," the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach added. "When I don't line up Van Persie you are asking 'where is van Persie?'.
"When I play Rooney in midfield I know in advance he is not always in the situation to score."
Van Gaal’s decision to play United captain Rooney in midfield has limited the first-team appearances of £29 million summer signing Ander Herrera, a player Manchester United fans are desperate to see more of after an impressive start to life at Old Trafford.
The former Athletic Bilbao star has often injected some much-needed energy and tenacity into the Red Devils’ midfield when called upon - but Van Gaal recently stated that the 25-year-old must improve in order to break into the starting line-up.
For all of his qualities as a centre-forward - this is a player expected to become England’s record goalscorer before the year finishes - Rooney often appears less involved and subsequently less effective when deployed in midfield.
Van Gaal not convinced by Rooney as a striker
But Van Gaal revealed earlier this season that he was “not satisfied” with Rooney as a striker - perhaps because of the influential skipper’s impressive work ethic.
Throughout his career Rooney has drifted across the pitch - even popping up in the full-back positions on occasions - in order to help his teammates.
An unselfish striker, the calls from Manchester United fans for Van Gaal to play Rooney upfront - in his natural position - will intensify the longer the team’s unconvincing spell continues.
United are currently fifth in the Premier League table, but will move back up to third place if they defeat Burnley and Southampton fail to beat West Ham at St Mary’s this evening.
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