Louis van Gaal has explained his selection decision over Adnan Januzaj after some questioned the youngster being employed as a holding midfielder in the disappointing draw with Sunderland on Sunday.
Manchester United were distinctly unimpressive as they drew 1-1 with Gus Poyet’s side, with one question raised after the match as to why the Old Trafford boss had decided to deploy the Belgian teenager in a much deeper role than he is accustomed.
Darren Fletcher was replaced by Januzaj in the 63rd minute as the Red Devils went in search for a winner. He could not inspire Van Gaal’s side to getting the second goal and the manager was quizzed afterwards as to why he had not used Shinji Kagawa, a player more accustomed to playing centre midfield, instead when he had him on the bench.
LVG bemoans injuries
"It is not usual that we have four injuries in midfield. Every club that has that, has a problem,” said the Dutchman.
He was referring to the fact that Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and youngster Jesse Lingard are all sidelined with fitness issues, leaving him only Fletcher and Tom Cleverley as senior central midfielders.
"That is why I played Januzaj in midfield, (and) because as a coach I want to win,” he added.
"I have said that we need creative passing and I thought Januzaj could provide that. That is the reason.
"Kagawa, I have tried to play him in that position in the United States (in pre-season) and he could not fulfil my wishes and my philosophy. We have spoken about that and he is more of a 10.
"Juan Mata was playing at 10 and I thought I had to change the other players, which is why I chose to bring on Januzaj.
"It is because of creation. Kagawa can also create, but I asked Adnan to play there because of the lack of midfielders.
"When he played in Belgium, he played in midfield so I asked if he could do it for us. I said to him 'you are on the bench as a midfielder' because I want him to focus.
"He played there and you could see it's not so many times that he's played there. But he did his utmost and I cannot demand more."
Juan Mata opened the scoring early in the first half, tapping home from close range after good work from Antonio Valencia on the right, but the lead did not last long. Former Manchester City midfielder, making his home debut for Sunderland, headed home on the half hour after some very sloppy marking at a corner.
The draw left Manchester United with a return of only one point from their first two Premier League matches of the 2014/15 season – not exactly the beginning to the Van Gaal era most were expecting.
Lacking a lot
However, what is more worrying is how they have been playing; United look short of ideas going forward and look very vulnerable at the back when they lose the ball.
Van Gaal has implemented a 3-5-2 system but the defenders are struggling to adapt to it and he has players playing in unfamiliar positions, such as Ashley Young as a left wing-back.