Januzaj, 19, came on as a second half substitute for United and played well in an unorthodox position in the middle of the park.
Fans questioned why Van Gaal played Januzaj in what was an unusual position for him and the Dutchman’s reasoning behind the move was simple – he wanted to win.
“It is not usual that we have four injuries in midfield,” Van Gaal said.
“Every club that has that, has a problem. That is why I played Januzaj in midfield because as a coach I want to win. I have said that we need creative passing and I thought Januzaj could provide that. That is the reason.”
From a deeper role, Januzaj’s introduction against Sunderland helped shift the game in United’s favour but ultimately he couldn’t help turn the game around completely and Van Gaal cited Januzaj’s previous experience as a reason why he held the edge over Shinji Kagawa.
Van Gaal added: “Kagawa, I have tried to play him in that positon in the US and he could not fulfil my wishes and my philosophy,” the boss said. “We have spoken about that and he is more of a 10. Mata was playing at 10 and I thought I had to change the other players, which is why I chose to bring on Januzaj.
“It is because of creation. Kagawa can also create, but I asked Adnan to play there because of the lack of midfielders. When he played in Belgium, he played in midfield so I asked if he could do it for us. I said to him ‘you are on the bench as a midfielder’ because I want him to focus.
“He played there and you could see it’s not so many times that he’s played there. But he did his utmost and I cannot demand more.”
Van Gaal has faced many problems with this current United squad and finding space for Januzaj has been one of many thorns in his side.
While playing him in a deeper role may be far from ideal, it’s better to see Januzaj on the pitch than the bench but hopefully Van Gaal will be able to find a place for him in his more natural attacking role as a winger in the not so distant future.