Taking Rooney’s pace away from the attack meant James Wilson was preferred to Radamel Falcao up front but neither decision turned out to be a negative given United won 3-0 with Rooney grabbing the opener.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer commented at half-time how Rooney arrived on the edge of the box from his midfield position as Paul Scholes would have run and scored a lovely placed shot to put his team into the lead.
But when asked by journalists in his post-match press conference if he saw Rooney as a central midfielder, van Gaal was defiant in saying it depended on the opponent.
“No I have explained that,” said van Gaal.
“It is about the analysis of the opponent. We analyse their weaknesses and then we line-up because of that.
“I thought today Rooney would be more a midfielder because I needed more speed in the middle and with Wilson up front.”
The convincing victory and six wins in a row did give van Gaal time to have a little joke with the assembled press as he claimed Rooney could probably play everywhere, except in David De Gea‘s place.
“Maybe next time Rooney is a striker, but not a goalkeeper I think.”
That next time could come on Saturday when United visit Aston Villa looking to make it their seventh win in a row going into Christmas.