Louis van Gaal has failed to find his best attack for Manchester United, despite having one of the best collections of goalscorers in Premier League.
Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao seemed to be the favoured choice, but that did not work
Van Persie and Falcao are strikers in the same mould. They are too similar in many ways, and the lack communication that will allow their games to link-up. When both Falcao and Van Persie are on field, United's midfielders find it really difficult to create chances, with neither forward working the space competently enough.
In the FA fifth round match against Preston North End Monday, Van Gaal decided it was time to try something different having witnessed so many turgid displays.
Wayne Rooney, after being moved to midfield to make way for this supposed favoured front duo, was pushed up into attack to partner Falcao.
Article continues below
It could have been considered as the last chance for the captain to show Van Gaal that his career as a striker is not finished. And this could be the last chance for Falcao, too.
New way, old result. There was optimism that Rooney and Falcao could be the answer, but both failed to produce a performance of note while employed together. Just two shots came in the first-half as the same problems persisted.
While Rooney was still able to make some decent runs behind Preston's defence, Falcao simply disappeared. He had no shots, made just 27 touches, 18 passes, and failed to creat an opportunity.
No one except Falcao seemed to be surprised when Van Gaal decided to replace the Colombian with Ashley Young on 60 minutes.
As soon as Falcao was off the pitch, Van Gaal returned to his favourite plan B, or plan (B)attering ram: moving Fellaini up front, bumping long balls and crosses at him, and waiting for the Belgium international to make an impact.
It worked against West Brom, Stoke, QPR, Cambridge, and West Ham. And it worked against Preston, too.
Fellaini's presence in the box immediately caused problems for the defenders. Just five minutes after the change, United levelled through Ander Herrera. Seven minutes later, United went ahead for the first time in the match.
After the first header was denied by Preston's keeper, Fellaini ferociously struck the rebound into the net to make it 2-1 for the away team.
With Fellaini bulldozing defenders, finding spaces is not a problem anymore. And the Belgian giant's ability to hold up the ball also suits Rooney others; they have time to move to appropriate positions. If United decide to play a crossing game, Fellaini for sure is the best target man they have.
So the question here is: if Fellaini-the-striker always makes an impact, why doesn't Van Gaal make him a permanent choice up front?