And after a rip-roaring start to his Man United career, scoring seven goals, the 18-year-old has established himself as his side’s main goalscoring threat. Speaking after United’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday, the Dutchman explained that he moved Rooney into central midfield in order to accommodate the in-form Rashford.
“Not any player has a fixed position. I use them where I think they can give a higher contribution in a particular game,” van Gaal said.
“It was more of a midfield role today, also because of the way Crystal Palace play, and I didn’t want to change [Marcus] Rashford from that [striker] position, so I had to look from another position for Wayne.”
Amid the waves of excitement caused by Rashford’s rise to stardom, there was (to me anyway) a concern surrounding how the youngster and the captain would, in a formation that only accommodates one striker, function in the same team.
It was feared that Rashford would be forced out wide by van Gaal (who seems to have a blind spot for Rooney’s decline in form), in order to include 30-year-old, or, worse still, dropped altogether. So to see the opposite occur is both surprising and uplifting. With the season reaching boiling point, it would be criminal and illogical to play your most potent asset out of position. And even van Gaal, a man increasingly renowned for bonkers footballing decisions, is aware of this.