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Using Fellaini as a number 9 is all wrong for Man United

| 26.08.2015

Make no qualms about it, Wayne Rooney has struggled for Manchester United this season. The Red Devils skipper has been handed the lone striking role at Old Trafford and so far has not lived up to expectations. The England captain has been asked to play on the two centre halves, a role he does not enjoy and clearly is not too good at. 

Rooney has yet to score and failed to get that bit of luck he needed against Newcastle, when he was harshly adjudged to be offside after seemingly opening his account. It is clear that Louis van Gaal needs a new striker as he heads into tonight’s Champions League clash with Club Brugge, a game they are 10/11 to win. 

So, the Dutchman has unveiled his grand plan. Instead of bringing in a number nine of proven talent, he has instead turned to the much-maligned Marouane Fellaini. The giant Belgian has been very much the utility man in his time in Manchester, and thanks to his allegiance with David Moyes has been unfairly criticised.

When used correctly, the ex-Everton player is a handful for any side, just look at his showings in the second half of the previous campaign. His manager believes that those talents can be used higher up the field:  “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.”

It’s an interesting theory from Van Gaal. Playing Fellaini as a striker will free up Rooney to operate deeper, but he is fooling himself if he sees this as the answer to his forward dilemma. Fellaini scored seven goals last term, and he does carry a goal threat (he’s 2/1 to get on the scoresheet in Brugge), but he is no striker.

He can be backed to score under 6.5 league goals at 8/13 with Ladbrokes, while he’s 11/10 to oust Juan Mata in a match bet.

United supporters have already been served up some pretty slow and unexciting football, and to deploy the Belgium international as his first choice number 9 would only add to that. Van Gaal knows he needs another goalscoring option.

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Aaron Cox

Aaron has written for a number of top-level publications, including FourFourTwo and the Manchester Evening News. As well as being a fanatical Rochdale AFC fan and blogger, he shares a passion for rugby league and golf.