Louis van Gaal admits that Wayne Rooney is Manchester United’s best centre forward, but says he needs to play the England captain in midfield for now, reports the Daily Mirror.
Van Gaal has been questioned for fielding Rooney as a midfielder in recent weeks, with Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao struggling for goals up top.
Rooney is likely to maintain his place in midfield for Monday’s visit to Preston in the FA Cup, with Michael Carrick sidelined through injury.
There have been calls from United fans to see their captain play in his proper position as a centre forward, but van Gaal is adamant Rooney is best suited in midfield at present due to the lack of numbers in that position – despite allowing Darren Fletcher and Anderson in the January transfer window.
Van Gaal said: “Rooney is maybe our best striker. But I am playing him in midfield because I have to look at which players make the biggest contribution and in what position.
“Rooney is probably giving more of a contribution to the England team when he is playing as a striker.
“I would also put him in the striker’s position if I was the coach of the English team. But it is the composition of the team that is more important than the individual player.”
United have spent more than £200million on new signings over the past 18 months, with midfielders the likes of Ander Herrara, Maraoune Fellaini, Daley Blind, Juan Mata and Angel Di Maria all brought to Old Trafford.