Louis van Gaal has conceded that Wayne Rooney is the Red Devils's best striker but he cannot be positioned up front as he is desperately needed in the midfield.
The Dutchman used Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and James Wilson up front but has refused to let Rooney take the bite of the cherry and has been using him on a deeper role, where he is expected to facilitate play with his vision and incisive passing.
The England international was deployed as a defensive midfielder against Burnley in spite of the plethora of midfield riches at Van Gaal's disposal including the likes of Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and others.
His tactics have come under massive criticism over the past few days, but the Dutchman insists that he is sacrificing Rooney's attacking instincts for the sake of the team, who need to qualify for the Champions League this season.
United are heavily armoured up front but Rooney's absence in an attacking sense has obstructed their course in games against West Ham, where Falcao and Van Persie were found shooting blanks and eventually had to sacrifice two crucial points as Rooney was not moved to an advanced position.
However, the Dutchman insists that his role in the United team has been defined beyond doubt and that the England team will benefit more from him playing as a striker than at Old Trafford.
"Rooney is maybe our best striker. But I am playing him in midfield because I have to look at which players make the biggest contribution and in what position," Van Gaal said.
"Rooney is probably giving more of a contribution to the England team when he is playing as a striker.
"I would also put him in the striker's position if I was the coach of the English team. But it is the composition of the team that is more important than the individual player," he concluded.