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Where does Wayne Rooney fit in now at Manchester United?

It has been a standard week on the international front, England have again put in another below-par performance and Wayne Rooney is again following the script and taking the vast majority of the blame. This is of course is what happens when you become England and Manchester United captain.

Life at Manchester United is also perhaps not running as smoothly as expected for the 28-year-old, United are still yet to win a competitive game so far this season and the arrival of a certain Radamel Falcao may jeopardise the number ten’s place in Louis Van Gaal’s starting eleven.

Doubts have been raised over the quality of the striker’s performances over the past couple of seasons, and with two other world class strikers now within the ranks, the question has to be pondered as to whether Wayne Rooney has a significant role to play for the Red’s anymore?

Wayne Rooney of course will always have his haters. Two transfer requests and an attempt to force a move across to the blue half of Manchester will always tarnish even the most outstanding careers in a United shirt in many supporters minds, and because of this that young 18-year-old adopted from Merseyside over ten years ago will never become part of the family here in Manchester.

These views however should not be considered when forming an unbiased view of the player’s overall footballing ability. People who claim Wayne Rooney has been overrated and surpassed of the quality from being among the very best need to just look at the striker’s record. Rooney is one of only four players to score over 200 goals in a red shirt, he is just 32 goals away from being United’s record goal scorer and he has averaged almost a goal every 2 games during his time at the club. Not bad for a poor player, and probably not best to mention his one Champions League, two League Cup and five Premier League winner’s medals.

Despite these stats and accolades however the questions and criticism over Rooney continues. Wayne Rooney has re-invented himself as a number ten over the last few years, and there is a strong argument to suggest that this role simply does not suit him. His first touch is far from the greatest in the footballing world and by no means does he possess that pace and agility he once had enabling him to drift by defenders at ease. We all stand and clap at Old Trafford when he lofts a beautifully weighted 20-yard pass across the hallowed pitch, but to be frankly honest the process is more often than not needless and just slows down United’s game. We want Wayne Rooney at his very best, in the penalty area, terrorising defenders and scoring goals.

If this modern number ten role is to exist in Van Gaal’s much publicised philosophy then i’m afraid Juan Mata is by far a more superior contender. His nimble frame, turn of pace and agility make him a threat to defenders throughout the league, far more daunting than somebody inside their own-half playing aimless balls onto the flanks. If Rooney drops into midfield then it is simply a consolidation that he is no longer the player he once was and will simply be there to fit his world famous name into the side. Unfortunately there is no room for sentiment with Louis Van Gaal.

If Rooney’s future remains up top it will be rather intriguing to see who is sacrificed out of Falcao and Van Persie who arguably make up the two fiercest strikers in the footballing world. Rooney has proved in the past that he can hit that golden 30-goal tally when operating solely as a striker. Following Ronaldo’s departure in 2009 Rooney hit 35-goals for both club and country. The difference now however is that the name Wayne Rooney no longer strikes fear into Premier League defences, he’s easy to defend against and the past year or so has conveyed that the player physically may have peaked a number of years ago.

It’s not all doom and gloom however, the club captain looked in great shape during pre-season as he led the line for United and notably scored an impressive volley in the final of the International Champions Cup against bitter rivals Liverpool. He also bagged a majestic finish on the opening day of the season in the 2-1 loss at home to Swansea City. Since becoming captain though his performances have left a lot to be desired and have hardly been inspirational in a United side still struggling for confidence.

Louis Van Gaal now has to answer the question as to whether he can in fact drop United’s club captain? The Dutchman has evoked his admiration for the 28-year-old on a number of times already throughout his short stint at the club so far, but he has also portrayed his ruthless streak with a number of departures this summer. Sir Alex Ferguson was never afraid to drop his captain, perhaps most notably with Roy keane when the pair had a major bust-up before the Irishman left the club in 2005. If Rooney isn’t good enough then he shouldn’t play, it’s simple.

So where can the once idolised forward fit in? If rumors are to be believed then Van Persie may be set for a spell on the sidelines following a much talked about operation leaving a space free next to Falcao up top. Otherwise he may have to be patient and battle it out with Juan Mata for that coveted role behind the pair. This all of course could work on Rooney’s side and help raise his game after no longer being guaranteed a place within a sub-standard United side. Another option is to force him out wide as part of a 4-3-3 formation. The player has fronted his frustration when placed in this role before, but his healthy weekly wage and the captains armband may help soothe him over. Still, this is again no the ideal position, his reduced pace again becoming an overriding factor.

If current form and player suitability for the current system are considered then Wayne Rooney should be dropped. If records and sentiment are considered then Wayne Rooney should be a guaranteed starter. He is not as important to the club as he once was and a spell on the sidelines may not necessarily be such a bad thing. United’s captain is at his very best when played as a striker, and the departures of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez evoke this is where he features in Van Gaal’s plans. Is he good enough? Time will tell as Wayne Rooney is now just part of a trio of world class strikers in the red half of Manchester.

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9 replies on “Where does Wayne Rooney fit in now at Manchester United?”

At one time I would have agreed with you mwl. but Rooney is now way too slow for the EPL as other teams get bigger and fitter. His poor ball control at speed has already been referred to but so too has his passing under pressure been criticized. He loses possession to easily when harassed and would be a liability. I’m afraid whether you like it or not, captain or not, Rooney has become our third choice striker and that is where he truly fits.

Rooney was an emerging Premier League (and England) star at sixteen. That was twelve years ago and now at twenty eight he is past his best. Often in Premier League football, the earlier a player starts, the sooner he peaks and consequently is ‘over the hill’ at an earlier age than most. Injuries, wear and tear, burn out, lack of hunger and lifestyle choices, leave their mark.

Wayne Rooney has been a top class player but now his first touch is heavy, affecting his control and short passing game, he lacks pace and acceleration and he finds it difficult to shake off persistent markers. He is still a decent player but at a time when United are looking to get back to the top of the tree by signing the likes of di Maria and Falcao, Wazza is coming up short. He is definitely not a high class number ten and as van Gaal is starting to realise, Wayne is no great shakes as a captain either. He is no Robbo or Keano.

Wayne’s star is on the wane.

Guys don’t be harsh on Rooney his da best player in Manchester Utd n he deserves to be captain of da side. Although he makes mistakes he gets da job done. All strikers hve their rough tmes , instead of blaming him let’s support him. If u can’t den don’t call urself a Man Utd Supporter

Great article & couldn’t agree more. It seems to me that his desire has gone and he just goes through the motions. Drop him, if he really wants”it” he’ll work hard to get back in the team if not get rid.

I think rooney is one of manchester united legend,he as realy trie a lot for man u now that is nw the captain of both england and man u,i dnt think this is the time stand on all his mistake,let all be wory,let believe in him and let us depend on falcao and rvp only

I think rooney is one of manchester united legend,he as realy trie a lot for man u now that is nw the captain of both england and man u,i dnt think this is the time to stand on all his mistake,let all not be wory,let believe in him and let us depend on falcao and rvp only

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