West Ham 1 Man Utd 1: Van Gaal must accept Rooney is a striker - not a midfielder

United captain's woes in front of goal continue as Van Gaal insists on playing him in a withdrawn role

Free Wayne Rooney

It's time for Louis van Gaal to accept that Wayne Rooney is a striker - not a midfielder.

The Manchester United and England captain looks like a caged animal in his withdrawn role - failing to find the back of the net in 2015.

Playing behind Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao, one can only imagine what was going through his mind as United's strike pair were guilty of blowing a host of chances.

True Rooney can do a job in midfield - and he may even end his career in that role. But right now he is still United's most potent force in attack - making Van Gaal's decision to take him out of the firing line increasingly questionable.

It's not right - but it's okay

A point at Upton Park is nothing to be sniffed at. West Ham have already overcome Manchester City and Liverpool at home - and were within a whisker of taking another high-profile scalp.

But a point should not disguise how abject United were for much of the game.

West Ham looked well worth the three points when the ball dropped to Daley Blind in injury time.

It takes United's run to one defeat in 17 games and keeps them in the hunt for a Champions League place.

But they missed a golden opportunity to move within three points of City in second place and an unlikely bid for the top two.

Despite the run, it still feels like Van Gaal's side are struggling to build momentum.

Has Falcao's card been marked?

On the day when his agent Jorge Mendes claimed the Colombian striker could still be a hit at United, Falcao blew a gilt-edged chance to get on the score sheet.

One-on-one with Adrian in the second half, he poked the ball well wide, wasting one of the visitors' best openings of the match.

Van Gaal could not hide his disappointment on the bench and immediately penned a note in his famous dossier.

Was the Dutchman tallying up the amount of chances Falcao has missed this season?

Whatever it was, it's hard to imagine it was too complimentary on a day when Falcao and Van Persie looked one-paced in attack - raising question marks over whether they can work as an effective duo.

The £43m United will have to spend to make the 28-year-old's deal a permanent one looks more expensive by the day.

Speed kills - and United don't use it

Even with the livewire Angel di Maria and Adnan Januzaj it was all too ponderous for United.

The days when Sir Alex Ferguson's sides used to break with electrifying speed are long gone.

Instead Van Gaal's men are too deliberate with their build up play - enjoying possession, but allowing West Ham to get organised behind the ball and close the gaps.

The stage was set for Di Maria and Januzaj to attack down the flanks at pace - but it didn't happen anywhere near enough.

Is Blind the new Solskjaer?

In a season of precious few late dramas for Van Gaal's men, Blind has come up with two match-saving strikes.

Back in October it was his 87th minute effort that salvaged a 2-2 draw at West Brom - and at Upton Park, he was the one to come up with the goods again to rescue United.

He's got a long way to go before he reaches Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's heights - but there are some similarities between the two unassuming characters.

Blind has already established himself as one of Van Gaal's most trusted players, due to his work ethic and his tactical awareness.

His eye for goal is just a welcome bonus.

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