Rejuvenated Rooney is truly the complete footballer
As United powered through to the semi-finals of the Champions League at the expense of our old adversary’s Chelsea, there was much to savour after another Stella performance from the boys in Red. Ryan Giggs once again rolled back the years with another terrific showing alongside the revitalised Michael Carrick. Ji-Sung Park covered a staggering twelve kilometres and Javier Hernandez showed again what an astute purchase he is. For me, though, it was all about our talismanic number ten…
After an out of sorts season (to say the least) accompanied by shenanigans off it, Wazza has finally found his feet and, don’t worry Ray Wilkins, he’ll be staying on them. I’ve long said it but for me, we already have the answer to the Paul Scholes problem in one Wayne Rooney. I am a huge admirer of the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Bastian Schweinsteiger but why spend large sums of money when you already have the talent at your fingertips? Now who am I to preach, if Rooney is to replace Scholes in United’s midfield I’m sure Ferguson will have identified this, probably when everyone was raving about how Rooney should be played as the target man, right up front. On Tuesday night, though, he was sensational, love him or hate him you have to appreciate his talent, so I say forget the crap and get behind a marvellous footballer who could yet be the lynchpin of many more years of United success.
Chelsea couldn’t get near him and they didn’t have a clue where he was half the time and neither did many inside Old Trafford as Wayne popped up on the left, the right, up top and then on the edge of our own area. Double this with the lightning pace of Chicharito, we had the best defence in the Premier League extremely worried. On the biggest stage he gave a performance Keane, Robson, Whiteside and Ince would have all be proud off although in truth he wasn’t exactly midfield. To quote the great Sir Matt Busby it was as if Sir Alex said to the Croxteth born forward “just go out and play son”; Wayne was given a free role just behind Hernandez and sat in front of the effective Carrick and Giggs.
Without doubt this newly forged partnership of Hernandez and Rooney is the future, it is flourishing and is getting better by the game; what a shame it is that the two cannot be let loose on Manchester City on Saturday as I would love nothing more than to see them take City apart. No matter though, how many clubs do you know that can call on the League’s top goal scorer as back up, I am an admirer of Berbatov and he undoubtedly has a part to play at United but at thirty he must know himself the future rests with the twenty-five year old Rooney and the 22 year old Mexican, Hernandez.
The Rooney-Hernandez axis is a relatively new experiment in truth though; in 2010 they played with each other once against Rangers at home the next time was against Wigan at the DW Stadium in February. Since that game they have played together seven times scored seven between them and have three assists, remarkable.
The free role just behind the striker is perfect for Wayne as it utilises his appetite for football in the best possible way. If you look at the diagram below you can see the influence that Wayne carries in this position, spreading passes in all areas of the pitch.
Admittedly if there were any weaknesses in his game you could argue his passing percentage rate could have been better, however this is still a 78% pass completion rate which against a team with the quality of Chelsea and for a guy who isn’t Paul Scholes (yet) is extremely respectable. Furthermore Wayne offers energy and terrific tackling ability which aren’t Scholesy’s strong points, incidentally Rooney covered eleven kilometres.
Of course playing Rooney deeper would possibly restrict his goal return, he would probably not reach the thirty-four goals he scored in his most prolific season last year (2009/10) and you can see below that his chances on goal were restricted.
However subsequently he is in a better position to create goals (as shown by the diagram below) and this has been highlighted by the fact that Rooney has already shipped in with fourteen assists this season. Of course playing Rooney deeper would not eradicate his goal influence entirely, this season Rooney has netted thirteen goals and created fourteen, in a season where his touch has been off, he’s been poor, he doesn’t look happy etc. etc. Imagine if he had a clean run of form all season how effective he could be “in the hole” playing behind Hernandez or Welbeck and with Berbatov waiting in the wings in case things are going so well.
Rooney is such a complete footballer you would feel comfortable with him playing almost anywhere and he would still be available to play as the out and out forward we know he can giving the likes of Cleverly a chance to shine in that midfield role. Now I know what you are thinking, United have won nothing yet and it’s easy to wax lyrical after a good performance, well yes you are right. However after a season where this current United side have received so much stick even from sections of our own support it is great to see them clicking together when it really matters is extremely sweet and for the man vilified by many to be at the heart of it, is just typical United.