The manager has, on occasion, has asked Fellaini to play in the final third when chasing a game or needing a goal, resulting in Man United playing much more direct up to the big Belgian. It does not make for attractive viewing, despite the increased aerial threat the Reds have on the opposition goal playing through Fellaini.
Van Gaal knows it is not the ideal way to penetrate the opposition but admits that sometimes he is left with little choice. Fellaini is the perfect option to have coming off the bench but starting him up front is only a last resort.
“When I put him on as a striker, he is only a striker in Plan B, not Plan A,” van Gaal said.
“He has played as a striker once, against Liverpool, but that was because I had a problem [with injuries] and that is why I made him the striker from the beginning. However, that is not normal.” Van Gaal told manutd.com.
Man United have the likes of Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and James Wilson all as recognised strikers in their squad, meaning only very rarely should Fellaini be used up front. Coming on as a substitute, the 27-year-old provides a different dimension to United’s play which can often be beneficial.
Having the option to go long and make the quick switch from defence to attack is sometimes the ebst course of action for United and in those cases, Fellaini is the ideal player. The troubles he can cause in an opposition penalty area are unparalleled but he should certainly only be used there when the Reds have absolutely no other option and are desperate for a goal.