Wayne Rooney’s contributions go beyond the Villa game
Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa: Observations and Analysis
The first was spectacular. It was classic Wayne Rooney, latching on to a long-searching ball by Van der Sar and then ferociously driving home with such power that Brad Friedel could only muster a flap. It was coming, in truth. Wayne Rooney, a man who has been on literally (my very best Jamie Redknapp impression) everybody’s lips since time began has at least silenced those who had written him off altogether – although conclusions that these two goals means Rooney has returned to form are wide off the mark.
In fact, he was in form for a while now. The notion that goals means a player has automatically returned to form is a short-sighted one; and obviously such feelings are concluded by those who have seen very little, if any, of Manchester United this season. Apart from score goals, which is still of course the most important role
of the forward, Rooney has done little else wrong.
His assist count is in double figures, and that’s amazing considering he created just three last term, and even those who think that assists themselves are of hardly of any importance compared to ‘goals’, must agree. And it’s not all about making direct assists or scoring them – stats don’t tell the whole story – Rooney has played deep in most matches this season and is often the protagonist and the man who creates chances. He has four – meaning, in total, he has contributed to 14 goals this season. Not bad, by any stretch.
Rooney, speaking post-match said: “As a striker, you always want to score, but I’ve been happy with the way I’ve been playing, except for the Blackpool game. I just couldn’t get into that one.” That Blackpool game meant many could once again turn of Rooney, and point out that his talent has been stifled by a long summer, his role as a second striker or whatever people feel forced to come up with.
The second Rooney goal was equally-perfect, but it was Nani who quite rightly deserves credit. His cross to set up Rooney just before the interval was one that even he could not have envisaged; but it was struck with such precision and accuracy that Rooney had to score simply out of respect for Nani’s defense-splitting pass that had Villa’s James Collins beaten. It’s not the first time Collins has been on the receiving end on a piece of genius. There was some cause for concern when United conceded after the second half – Downing’s presence so terrifying down the left wing that both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic felt incline to cover him – oblivious to a free Darren Bent in the box who collected Downing’s pass and stroked it home.
Vidic soon made amends, and lashed home soon after and, as the game petered out in the 15 minutes, United ran away victors again in a home game, having dropped points only one occasion in thirteen games. Aston Villa fought hard, in vain, although an honourable mention must go to Brad Friedel, as he (like his opposite number) continued to defy age between the posts. United were solid and assured at the back, and up front, Rooney was firing on all cylinders. Unsurprisingly.
Opposition Reaction – http://astonvillacentral.com: “Overall, not the absolute brightest of performances, not a patch on the breathless reverse of this fixture, certainly where the final third of the pitch is concerned. But not altogether bad in a game that grabbing a point would have been a super result regardless of our recent resurgence in form.
“United rightly sit unbeaten at the top of the table, it was always going to be an uphill struggle, but just a few weeks ago this side would have collapsed. Tonight they didn’t.”