Less than a decade ago Wayne Rooney was known for his vigour-he was young, fast, hungry, and had that passion. Now he’s a little bit older and slower, doesn’t dribble as much as he used to after suffering from his metatarsal injury (I suspect he’s afraid to get kicked on the run) and he seems to have lost some of that fire that used to burn in him.
Question is, what would be Rooney’s ideal position? At the age of 28, you would think he’d be at the peak of his prowess – a master of his art with a clear role in the team. However, a simple comparison to his team mates will tell a different tale.
Upfront, Man U has Robin van Persie and Falcao, both of whom are clear cut strikers. Of which, the Dutchman’s equipped with a clinical finishing technique not many can boast to have. The Columbian hitman’s a true number 9 with his predatory instincts and quality finishing when it counts in, and outside, the box.
Captain for both England and Manchester United, Wayne Rooney doesn’t have the attributes that make him stand out when compared to these two individuals. Yeah, sure he has brilliant technique (not that we see it often), and good finishing but somehow, as a striker, he pales in comparison to his two team mates in that department.
Moving back the front line a notch to the attacking midfielders department, we have the latest United number 7, Di Maria, and Spaniard Juan Mata. The Argentine, without a doubt, possesses superior dribbling skills and speed coupled with fantastic foresight and execution. Mata on the other hand is well known for his ability to get into tight spaces and play the ball into dangerous spaces.
His one touch play, nimble feet and, most importantly, intelligence allows him to weave in and out through defenders while bringing his team mates into play. Again compare Rooney to the both of them and he doesn’t quite stand out as the best in the team. I’m not saying he doesn’t have vision or skill in passing, but perhaps it is time the manager considered dropping Rooney to a deeper role.
After all, I am still a staunch believer that after Paul Scholes, Rooney holds the mantle as best passer in United. His range of passing is absolutely insane, and it helps that his accuracy almost never fails him. He is also equipped with one of the meanest long shots in United. These attributes kind of make him perfect for a deep lying playmaker or a box to box midfielder role.
His speed is not what it used to be as an 18 year old, but with age he has gained far greater weapons. His big picture vision and execution would be put to deadly use deeper down the pitch where he can dictate matches akin to what Scholes used to do. And with Blind right beside him he would have someone to work for the ball and feed it to him, although knowing Rooney he would work for it himself.
So I’m not saying drop the captain of the club. All I’m saying is, give him a role more suited to his strengths, and give his teammates the chance to excel where they would do best. Sir Alex Ferguson realized Rooney’s potential as a central midfield playmaker two seasons ago and guess who won the league? Also United has a problem in the middle as they lack a competent long range passer. Herrera and Blind both are more of short pass personnel.
Carrick, when fit, does have a decent passing range but I would choose Rooney over him any day in that role. Main reasons would be Rooney has the superior work rate and vision, not to mention he doesn’t hide his feelings when the team isn’t performing up to mark.
Ultimately it is the perfect fit. Sir Alex figured it out, but couldn’t risk upsetting the club talisman. Let’s see if the new manager has what it takes to drop Rooney for his own good before it’s too late. A player who can motivate and galvanize the team, someone with the technique and intelligence to dictate the pace and play of the game, and lastly a player who isn’t afraid to get a yellow card just cause he feels like it. Midfield generals are hard to find and like it or not, its time Rooney got his promotion.