Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal to play Marouane Fellaini as a striker
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has claimed that he will be using Belgian international Marouane Fellaini as a striker in the 2015/16 season, The Guardian reports. The Dutchman is confident that the 27-year-old can thrive up front leading the line or playing just behind the main forward.
The 65-year-old had earlier stated that he was content with the forwards at United despite skipper Wayne Rooney failing to score in the opening four matches of the new season. With Mexican Javier Hernandez and teenager James Wilson, the only other recognised strikers in the squad, Van Gaal claims that Fellaini will be used more as a striker, with the number of midfield options at his disposal.
When questioned about Fellaini, Van Gaal said: “He can play in a 9 position and in a 10 but also 6 and 8 but this year he shall play more 10 and 9 than 6 and 8 because there [in midfield] we have more players.”
Fellaini scored against Club Brugge in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League qualifier after coming on as a substitute in place of Wayne Rooney, handing United a 3-1 victory. Ahead of the second leg, which takes place in his home country, the 6ft 4in player is confident that he can repay the manager’s confidence in him by finding the back of the net.
“In the past I played No 10 and No 9 sometimes when I had to help the team,” he said. “It’s not important where I play, it’s important to win the game.
“It’s different playing midfielder and striker or No 10, but I enjoy all the positions I can play. Last season, I did well and I want to continue like that. I know the philosophy of the manager and am looking forward to doing well and scoring some goals.”
Fellaini’s stats in his two seasons at Old Trafford
Fellaini, who has been capped 60 times by the Belgian national team, had a prolific goalscoring record for a midfielder in his five seasons at Goodison Park. He netted 33 times in 177 matches for Everton and followed his manager in making the switch to Old Trafford in the summer of 2013/14.
However, bogged down by the £27.5-million transfer fee, Fellaini struggled at Old Trafford, failing to score a single goal in his debut season. He enjoyed a revival of sorts under the Dutch boss and was deployed in a number of positions in the 2014/15 season – including as a striker most notably against West Ham United as United faced an injury crisis up-front.
That match ended 1-1 and Van Gaal faced much criticism for using a ‘long-ball’ approach with Fellaini as the target man. However, the Dutchman is confident that Fellaini can prove more than a handful by holding up the ball for United’s midfield players to run onto as well as by scoring himself.
United fans will be hopeful that Fellaini can score more goals like the one he scored against Brugge last week. He took down the ball on his chest and moved it to the wings before making the run forward and heading in Depay’s inch-perfect cross.