Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has shrugged off criticism of Wayne Rooney’s form and said he cannot understand suggestions his captain should be moved from the main striking role.
Rooney spent much of last season in midfield, but Van Gaal has installed the 29-year-old as his first-choice centre- forward after the departures of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao.
However, the England captain has had only had two shots in as many fixtures for United this season in their 1-0 wins over Tottenham and Aston Villa — both of them off target — and recorded just one touch in the Villa penalty area on Friday.
However, Van Gaal, who feels he was pressured to pick Rooney as a central attacker, says he still has his backing. And while United have not bought a striker this summer he feels he has enough options in the position, with Adnan Januzaj, Javier Hernandez and James Wilson offering competition for places.
He said in a news conference: “All the media has advised me for one year that I have to put him [Rooney] in the striker’s position, so it is very amazing that after two matches you are doubting your own opinion. I cannot understand that. “I have always confidence in my players but we don’t have only Wayne Rooney in the striker’s position. We have Adnan Januzaj. He played in the USA [on United’s pre-season tour] in the striker’s position. I have given him that chance and he has shown he can do that. “We have Chicharito [Hernandez] and we have Wilson, so I don’t think we have a lack of strikers.”
Rooney was United’s 14-goal top scorer last season but has not struck in his last eight appearances for his club. Van Gaal was asked whether he should consider using Juan Mata, who has played as a right winger and set up Januzaj’s winner at Villa, as a No. 10 to improve the supply line.
“Maybe you can ask the board of Manchester United if you are the trainer-coach or the manager and then you can discuss it with your staff,” he replied. “I don’t discuss it with the media.”