Van Gaal says Rooney not guaranteed starting place at United

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal speaks to Wayne Rooney during the FA Cup third-round tie at Yeovil.

Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

Louis van Gaal says Wayne Rooney is not a certain starter at Manchester United despite taking the armband at the start of the season.

Rooney has started every game for which he has been available – barring the Capital One Cup embarrassment against MK Dons – but his Dutch manager claims nobody is guaranteed a place.

Both Rademel Falcao and Juan Mata have previously started games on the bench while Rooney and Robin van Persie have been mainstays of the side.

Mata is likely to make way when Angel Di Maria returns to full fitness.

"I need balance in the team. I’m looking for the balance," Van Gaal told MUTV.

"I hope to perform better because then the game shall be more attractive. I don’t know if I shall use him (Rooney) always because it’s also dependable on the form of the strikers.

"He’s also a very good striker so I can use him in different positions and I like that because I like multi-functional players. I normally buy more multi-functional players than specialists."

Van Gaal previously said in September: "We have played well, but can improve, and I was not so satisfied with Rooney as a striker and Mata as midfielder."