Louis van Gaal has hinted that Wayne Rooney’s time as a striker at Manchester United may be coming to an end.
Rooney, who has struggled to show his best form this season, turned 30 on Saturday and is set to play up front for United in Sunday’s Manchester derby, but Van Gaal has suggested that the England man might now be better suited to a midfield role.
Happy birthday pic.twitter.com/bdeWqzI8w2
— Coleen Rooney (@ColeenRoo) October 24, 2015
The United boss was asked whether he thought Rooney could continue in his current position for several years to come, and the Dutchman said: “As a striker it is always more difficult because your freshness as a player is not so easy to maintain.
“As a striker you get a lot of kicks, but he is very strong so he can do the job. But as a striker you also need always your highest speed because we live in the time that we have small spaces so speedy acting, dealing with the ball, is always at the highest level.”
Rooney has scored eight times this season for club and country, but he has only netted twice in the Premier League – one of which was a fine breakaway goal last weekend as the former Everton man finished Ander Herrera’s fine pass to help United sink his former club 3-0. That, according to Van Gaal, showed the importance of speed of thought to athletic speed.
“If you go at the right time, you are always faster than your opponent,” said Van Gaal. However, he did hint that Rooney’s status as United’s front runner is not a given and with new boy Anthony Martial hitting the ground running with five goals to his names since his £36million Monaco, Rooney’s time may well be coming to a close.
“In midfield you can read the game and that is why you have more space to play football. And then you don’t need so speedy handling with the ball or speed to run off your defender, because that space is like that and in midfield it is like that,” added Van Gaal.