Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes Louis van Gaal will continue to play Wayne Rooney in midfield for Manchester United this season and has the ability to be as important in the role as Cesc Fabregas is to Chelsea.
Van Gaal has played Rooney in a central midfield role for Man United in recent weeks but the England captain has struggled to make an impact from the position.
Keown, now working as a pundit, feels Rooney would be more effective up top for United but that Van Gaal will persist with him in the middle of the park.
Speaking about Rooney’s position, Keown said: “I think Louis van Gaal will play him in midfield rather than at the top of the team. For somebody who tinkers so much I’m surprised he hasn’t actually played Robin van Persie behind Rooney this season.
“Van Persie has admitted he is not at his best and he is making less of a difference off the shoulder of the defender. Rooney could still do a job up there because he has the energy to burst past people in the final third where Van Persie is lacking sharpness.
“I almost wonder if Van Gaal is getting close to leaving his fellow Dutchman out of the team, maybe even just to rest him.
“But Rooney, it seems, is destined for a midfield role. I think he’s very capable of that and I would be tempted to play him next to Daley Blind in the same role that Cesc Fabregas occupies for Chelsea. He certainly has the talent to pull it off.”
Man United fans will harbor a grudge against Keown after he berated Ruud van Nistelrooy for missing a crucial penalty against Arsenal a number of years ago but the former England man has a point in that Van Gaal is more than likely going to continue using Rooney in a midfield role.
Van Gaal has already shown this season that he can be stubborn with his decisions after sticking with a 3-5-2 formation for much of the campaign despite a huge amount of criticism.
Whether he leaves Rooney in midfield remains to be seen, as United look to achieve their goal of finishing in the top four of the Premier League.
Do you think Wayne Rooney should be played in midfield or as a striker?