Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has ruled out using Marouane Fellaini as his "plan A" striker in the Champions League encounter with CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night (3 November), despite Wayne Rooney's recent goal drought. The Dutch boss claims that the Belgium international can be a plan B for the role, but that "he is more a midfielder than a striker".
The Premier League giants host the Russian team on Tuesday following three consecutive goalless draws against Manchester City, Middlesbrough (which they eventually lost on penalties) and Crystal Palace. Rooney has not scored since the 3-0 victory over Everton on 17 October and United's last goal came when French starlet Anthony Martial scored the equaliser in the previous tie with CSKA in Moscow, rescuing the point which left them second in the group, but level on points with the Russians, ahead of their Tuesday clash.
Van Gaal has been urged to drop the captain by a number of pundits in recent days with the option of using Martial upfront, or even Fellaini, who filled in for an injured Rooney earlier in the season during the 3-1 victory over Liverpool.
But the boss says that the Belgium international will not be his number nine against CSKA Moscow as he sees him in a midfield role, urging him to fight for his position with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin or Michael Carrick.
"He has to compete as a midfielder because he is more a midfielder than a striker," van Gaal said to the United website. "He has to compete with players in his position and I have to compare and think how we have to play and then I decide [if he will play v CSKA]. It is always like that.
"It is not a question that he does not play well because I think he was one of my better players on Wednesday [against Middlesbrough]. It also depends on the game plan and how I want to put my midfield out."
"When I put him on as a striker, he is only a striker in Plan B, not Plan A," continued van Gaal. "He has played as a striker once, against Liverpool, but that was because I had a problem [with injuries] and that is why I made him the striker from the beginning. However, that is not normal."