Louis van Gaal admits playing Marouane Fellaini as a striker “is not normal,” and that the Belgian merely represents a ‘Plan B’ up top when needed.
Fellaini has made just one Premier League start so far this season, and was picked as a striker by manager Van Gaal against Liverpool amid an injury crisis.
Midfielder Fellaini has made seven appearances as a substitute so far this season however, and is often deployed as a makeshift striker when United are seeking a different approach.
Van Gaal says Fellaini is not competing against Wayne Rooney and others for forward positions however, but he is instead up against Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ander Herrera for a place in midfield.
“He has to compete as a midfielder because he is more a midfielder than a striker,” Van Gaal told Manchester United’s official 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 is also dependable 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.”