Wayne Rooney returned up front for Manchester United at the weekend and his brace secured a 2-0 win over Sunderland but he has had to settle with a midfield role for large parts of the season.
Despite his poor form in the role, van Gaal continued to play Rooney in a deeper position until Robin van Persie’s injury and Radamel Falcao’s poor form forced his hand.
Now that Rooney has returned to his natural role up front and got straight back among the goals, fans are keen to see him stay there on a permanent basis but Rooney has insisted he will respect van Gaal’s decision wherever he wants to play him.
“Everyone knows I’ve played midfield for the majority of the season but my record shows that I score goals so I’m not worried about that at all,” Wayne said.
“I was obviously pleased that the manager played me up front and I was delighted to get the two goals but the victory was the main thing today because after last week [when United lost to Swansea] it was important that we bounced back.”
Asked if he would like a run in the side as a striker, Rooney continued: “Well, that’s down to the manager. I’ve said before that it’s his decision and I respect his decision, wherever he wants to play me. I’ve played there throughout my career so obviously I know how to play up front. So I’m ready to play there if and when he wants me to do it.”
Prior to the game at the weekend, Louis van Gaal said United were missing a striker capable of scoring 20 goals in a season but he has since found one in Rooney simply by playing him in his natural position.
Despite playing in midfield for so long, Rooney is now United’s joint top goalscorer on ten alongside Robin van Persie and had he been pushed up front earlier in 2015, he’d no doubt have notched a few more goals by this point in the season.
Rooney is still United’s most consistent striker. Scoring goals is what he has always done best. Van Gaal has afforded multiple opportunities to van Persie and Falcao but they have failed to deliver enough, so it’s only natural Rooney should be considered the club’s first choice striker from now on.
Hopefully Rooney’s double against Sunderland is the beginning of another purple patch of form which coincides with van Gaal playing him up front in every game, starting with an away trip to Newcastle on Wednesday night.