Transfer deadline day was dominated by one man with Radamel Falcao securing a surprise move to Manchester United. The Colombian has been handed the number nine shirt and this may mean that Wayne Rooney could drop back into midfield.
Van Gaal spoke of his delight that he had secured the Colombian services for this season when speaking to the club’s website.
“I am delighted Radamel has joined us on loan this season. He is one of the most prolific goalscorers in the game. His appearance-to-goal ratio speaks for itself and, when a player of this calibre becomes available, it is an opportunity not to be missed.”
The signing of Falcao sees United sign an out-and-out goalscorer with the predatory instincts to score between 20-30 goals this season and while there are doubts about Robin Van Persie’s fitness a move back to midfield for Wayne Rooney could not be out of the question.
Rooney, who wears the number ten jersey ,could now be set to play in that role in midfield, providing the quality passes to Falcao and Van Persie. Van Gaal has not been afraid in the past to use high profile players in different positions, most notably switching Bastian Schweinsteiger to central midfield during his reign with Bayern Munich.
During Alex Ferguson’s last season at Old Trafford, Rooney had been deployed more regularly in midfield and it seems the England captain was not happy to play in that role when speaking in October 2013.
“Everyone at the club knew that [in attack] is where I wanted to play and I think that’s why I was disappointed because I got told to play in midfield and I didn’t want to. But I’d always go in and try to help the team, so I think there had to come a point where for my own career I had to be a bit selfish, really.”
However, with the options Van Gaal now has upfront and if Falcao and Van Persie are on form it could certainly be an option as the England captain has the playmaking ability to contribute in such a role.
Rooney may no longer have the pace of his younger years which could be a reason that the 28-year-old is struggling to have many goalscoring chances, however he does possess great vision and a deeper role with Falcao and Van Persie upfront could be an option if United are struggling to break teams down.
Rooney is capable of long direct passes as seen with the spectacular volley Robin Van Persie scored against Aston Villa at the end of the 2012/13 season.
Falcao excelled with Atletico Madrid due to quick and direct passes up to the Colombian and Rooney has the ability to provide such quality in a deeper role.
Van Gaal may opt to drop Rooney back if Juan Mata struggles for form in the number ten role, but if Van Persie and Falcao are scoring goals it may see Rooney’s versatility work against him and he could have to revert to a midfield role.
Van Gaal is however unlikely to play Rooney in a wide role if he switches to a 4-3-3 formation as the Manchester United captain struggled defensively for England against Italy in a wide left role at this year’s World Cup.
The Manchester United has shown in the past that he is not afraid to play high profile players in different roles and dropping Rooney back into a midfield role could be an effective move.
The sight of Wayne Rooney supplying a front two of Radamel Falcao and Robin Van Persie, both players who possess more predatory instincts, with his vision and play-making ability would frighten even the sternest of defences.
Dan Dalton, Pundit Arena.