Louis van Gaal has defended his decision to play Wayne Rooney in midfield in recent matches, suggesting that he has a problem if the England international is deployed further up the field.
The Dutchman has received plenty of criticism for using Rooney in the middle of the park, with many Manchester United fans feeling that the 28-year-old is better served when leading the attacking line. During last night’s victory over Burnley Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie started as the two strikers, and Rooney was utilised as a holding-midfielder after the 39th minute.
Van Gaal questioned
Post-match, as per the Daily Express, Van Gaal was once again asked to explain his choice with regards to the England captain’s role, and he made a point of implying he had little choice.
"I have to look for the better balance and I think until now because of Rooney we have a better balance in midfield," he said.
"I was very pleased how he replaced Daley Blind in the number six position.
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"He showed composure and of course he was also today the Rooney that I want to see but he has showed that he can play in every position.
"Maybe he can better play in a striker's position but then I have a problem in midfield."
"Maybe he can better play in a striker's position but then I have a problem in midfield"
Rooney the anchorman?
Van Gaal’s use of Rooney as Daley Blind’s replacement - after the Dutch international came off injured in the first-half - rightly raised questions, as the towering presence of Marouane Fellaini was on the bench. The Belgium international made his name at Everton as a box-to-box midfielder, and has enjoyed something of a renaissance since Van Gaal’s appointment.
It also brings into question how the 63-year-old plans to arrange his attacking unit in the future, with there quite literally being too many cooks in the kitchen for all to get a decent amount of game-time.
Choices up top
With Rooney’s status as captain virtually ensuring that he’ll be on the team-sheet others like Van Persie and Falcao may be looking over their shoulders, and Adnan Januzaj has already suffered from long spells on the bench this term.
For in a fully-fit United squad one would have to assume that Rooney’s talents in midfield would be over-shadowed by the likes of Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and the aforementioned Blind. In that scenario the ex-Everton ace, who isn’t too far away from becoming his club’s record all-time scorer, would surely have to be used in a more advanced role.
In previous seasons, particularly the 2011/12 campaign, Rooney has proven that he is more than capable of scoring enough goals to make his side a title-challenging outfit, and with Van Persie sitting the wrong side of 30 and Falcao hardly impressing since his loan move from AS Monaco, he’s a natural choice.
If Van Gaal opts to dip into the transfer market for another frontman in the summer that could change, but even so Rooney ranks comfortably amongst the best forwards in the Premier League.
United fans, do you think Van Gaal is right to play Rooney in the centre of midfield? Let us know in the comments box below...