Date: 10th March 2011 at 1:34am
Written by:

Wayne Rooney midfield general

Is it time for Wazza to be moved elsewhere?

This season at a quick glance and everything looks fairly rosy in the garden of the Theatre of Dreams.

Top of the league, still in the Champion’s League and the FA Cup. Yet there have been a two small niggles which have grown to problems that for some have reached crisis levels.

The first concern is the form of a certain Scouse striker, who some would argue, timed his contract dispute perfectly as it’s doubtful he’d be offered the money he was then if he was negotiating a deal now. Wayne Rooney has at times looked almost as good as he did last season, but these times, if we’re completely honest have been far less frequent.

Seven goals all season tells a story in itself and there’s no point in pretending that he’s enjoying a great spell despite his recent better form. Rooney’s struggled to live up to the massive expectations that were placed on his shoulders, especially when he made the club break the bank to keep him. At the time of his contractual reticence I claimed that the club had to go all out to keep him as I felt he was one of the world’s very best players.

Several months on and only several more goals, I still stand by that summation, Rooney’s a once in  lifetime type of player that’s excelled so quickly at such a young age it’s easy to forget he’s nowhere near his peak. I’ll always feel that no matter how long since his last goal or what sort of game he’s having, there’s always a chance that Rooney can do something special and produce a match winning moment. His star may have dimmed with many United fans after the contract saga but he’s still a top, top player who any side would welcome with open arms.

The problem is Chicharito and Dimitar Berbatov have not stopped scoring all season, so dropping either or both of them for a player who’s not really firing on all cylinders is a tad risky to say the least.  Just because Rooney’s one of the world’s top players doesn’t mean that his strike partners aren’t, yet he’s the only one that seems to be deemed undroppable.

Rooney’s been moved over to the left wing on occasion to try and influence the game there, while Berbatov and Chicharito are partnered upfront but as was the case in Rome, it’s not a position where he seems to shine.

There are those who believe that Rooney is simply too good to be dropped, yet there are a seemingly equal amount who claim that the striker is in fact fallible and therefore droppable. It’s simply a case of playing your in-form players.

What to do with Wazza is a conundrum that seemingly will not go away.

The second problem or area that has had many fans scratching their heads at, or in some cases clenching their fists in fury, is the central midfield department. The centre of the pitch at Old Trafford has become something of a merry go round this season and it isn’t just due to rotating players for fitness purposes.

Both Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick have been dropped for certain big games due to form, while Paul Scholes is at an age where playing every game is justifiably beyond him. Then there’s Anderson who when he’s not on the treatment table is a very talented player, it’s just let’s be honest, three years after his arrival at Old Trafford there’s still no certainty as to whether he’ll actually make the grade.

All of United’s five main central midfielders have question marks surrounding them and the area is often identified as something of a weak spot. If you look at any United position I’d argue we have one the very best players on the planet occupying it. All along the defence, you’re looking at players that would walk into practically any team in Europe.

Even though Rio Ferdinand’s fitness still leaves a lot to be desired- that’s obviously a massive understatement, a bit like saying it’s been a while since City won a trophy- but with Nemanja Vidic, plus the excellent Chris Smalling, there’s enough quality there.

When it comes to wingers, the injury to Nani is disappointing as he’s been our player of the season- at least for me- but it’s not devastating as with Antonio Valencia set to return, plus hopefully J-Sung Park in the next week or so, there’s no reason to feel too downbeat. Ryan Giggs can still be relied upon to do a job as well even if like Scholes he needs to be used somewhat sparingly.

The striking positions are very strong indeed, with Chicharito and Berbatov having over 30 goals between them.

It’s just the central midfield area where there’s obviously room for improvement, with no real world class players being able to consistently perform there.

Continued on page two.

9 responses to “The Perfect Solution To All United’s Problems?”

  1. RedScot says:

    What a load of self massaging piffle Justin.
    He Rooney is crap, and needs to be shown the door.Asap.Its like most of your articles, you beat about the bush.
    I assume your still a season ticket holder at Old Trafford?

    • Chudi says:

      Were you calling him crap last season?
      He hasn’t been in the best of form this season and the whole leaving thing has clearly left a bitter taste in our mouths but I can’t agree with those that want him sold, I’d rather see how he performs next term and he is still pissing around then why not but we deserve to squeeze every drop out of him including asking him to play in midfield.

      Doesn’t sound that bad an idea to me, when he first came back despite not scoring he was great in a creative role so why not drop him a little deeper where his grit can be used as well as still getting the benefits of his attacking instincts?

  2. timbo says:

    Really – he’s a once in a lifetime player? Do tell. What exactly would you consider makes him so special – the fact that no player in recent memory has been so over-hyped and overrated by an English media and public so starved of a home grown champion to carry the flag for the country that they’ll anoint just about anyone as the next coming of Christ on the football pitch.

    The guy can’t dribble to save his life, his ball control is woeful, so much so that he constantly wastes precious time trying to retrieve the ball when crossed to him because he invariably bunts it yards away, giving nearby defenders ample opportunity to shut him down or latch on to the ball themselves. Compared to the almost magical touch of Berbatov, Rooney has the finesse of a bull running rampant in a glass factory.

    His shooting is equally bad, so much so that it’s a lottery whether he’ll shank it to the side, mistime it and give the keeper easy catching practice, or as is his usual want of late, blast it into the stratosphere well over the goal – he even blew a penalty in this fashion. The only goals he generally gets in are those gifted to him at point blank range by better players on either side (recall the exceeding generosity of Berbatov recently?) or via penalties. The much vaunted goal from a few weeks ago was pure arse – he even screwed it up as it came off his shin, rather than the foot. Berbatov’s effort earlier in the season was much better, as he took a ball that was behind him, cleverly deflected it up in the air off his thigh, then executed perfectly and with precision – no arse about it. It was beautiful to watch, and very few players in the world could have pulled it off. Rooney? No chance in hell.

    Rooney’s much lauded energy and defensive effort? The guy can’t hold on to the ball to save his life, is frequently dispossessed one on one, and often breaks down attacks with errant passes that go to the opposition – or leave team team mates to deal with what in rugby terms would be called a hospital pass. And how often have we seen Rooney, deep in defense, hand the damn ball back to the other team, setting up dangerous plays – last year he even conceded a goal this way. Did anyone not note how exasperated Fergie got with Rooney against Liverpool, running up and down but doing absolutely nothing? I have said year after year with regard to Rooney – running endless all over the pitch, wearing your heart on your sleeve every step of the way, does not denote class – just a trier, and that’s all the guy is. At United he’s surrounded by some great players who make him look good – as seen every time he plays for England, he simply can’t repeat the same things at international level. He is the anti-Messi – incapable most of the time of making anything for himself – or others.

    Personally, I would love to see the back of the guy – I think he’s an anchor round United’s neck, because he’s a lousy strike partner, yet lacks the stature, the strength, and the skill to play effectively up front on his own when United choose to play 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 against the better teams.

    I also think it’s incredibly insulting to Berbatov that he has played so well this year, and so unselfishly, yet has been treated like absolute crap by a manager who remains totally blind to Rooney’s flaws and poor form, and even pairs Hernandez up with the guy to try and get things going. From being the top striker in the competition to third choice on the bench, what is Berbatov supposed to think, especially when Rooney continues to play so badly? If he now drops in confidence and production, Fergie will have no one but himself to blame. The Bulgarian and Hernandez should have been given the opportunity to form an effective partnership as soon as it became apparent that Rooney was off form early in the season.

    The only once-in-a-lifetime player up front for United is Berbatov. The last time I saw a striker with anything approaching his kind of ball skills, poise, and vision was Van Basten. I’d even go so far as to describe him as a Cruyff were he to ever hang up his striker’s boots and drop back into midfield. He has all the skills to take on the job.

    • MK says:

      timbo are you for real? I know Rooney is having a bad season but…are you for real???!!!!

      He is not Messi or Ronaldo, but he is still one of the best players in the world when on form. Your description was that of a sunday league player. How many times has Rooney dug us out of a hole since he’s been at the club. How many times has he carried the team with his drive and passion.

      • timbo says:

        @MK. Oh please. You’re one of those typical myopic fans who mistake industry for class and who equate the fact he actually manages to put the ball in the net after others have done all the work as ‘Rooney won it for us’. Is your thinking and appreciation of football that one-dimensional?

        Why don’t you answer your own question – how often has Rooney ever dug United out of the mire with footballing ability? The fact he is the focal point for the industry and quality of 10 other players is what netted him those goals last year, with a number thrown in from the penalty spot. He benefited enormously from the work of wingers like Nani and particularly Valencia, who served the ball to him on a plate on numerous occasions, and also from the excellent and unselfish play of Berbatov when paired together. And let’s not forget the work put in by the engine room staff, midfielders like Scholes, Giggs, Anderson and Fletcher, who’s efforts to win the battle in the middle of the pitch are what help net Rooney so many of those easy headers and tap ins.

        Why do you think he so frequently fails to produce for England in the major tournaments – he was an embarrassment at the last World Cup. The usual defense is to blame it on those around him – which is exactly the point. Rooney is the sum of those feeding him – he really can’t produce much on his own. Class players can, which is why the likes of Drogba and Torres are better strikers than Rooney ever will be. The only thing he has going for him, and it will soon be gone – is the pace to get in the square and finish off the moves of others. When was the last time you saw him jink past 2 – 3 players to score a goal or set up a team mate for a goal? How often do you recall Rooney actually making a goal for himself? Hell, any further out that 10 – 15 yards and any shot that Rooney takes is one of life’s heart-stopping moments because you KNOW that it could go anywhere – and that Rooney, as ever when he blasts yet another one over the goal, will look heavenwards with his usual ‘why me’ expression.

        I used to be one of those who admired the boy’s energy and enthusiasm, but over time you begin to realize how much of it is wasted and how often he leaves himself out of position for counter attacks – especially when he’s the only striker being used. And what’s the point of all that energy of you’re a liability in defense who hands the ball back almost as often as you win it?

        Spend the rest of the season paying particular attention to Roooney to learn a lesson between perception and reality, especially against better teams when he so often guts a frustrated and isolated figure. Yet the guy can play like utter garbage for 85 minutes, but manage to latch on to a fine cross from Nani or Valencia and suddenly people like you are screaming ‘Rooney, Rooney, Rooney’.

        I’ve been watching United play since the Busby days, and there isn’t a chance in hell that Rooney would have played alongside the likes of Charlton, Law, and Best, or displaced the likes of Cantona and others.

        As for the guy who claimed he’d make a good midfielder, other than the fact that Rooney has no vision or poise, no situational awareness, poor passing skills, lousy timing, and even worse ball control, he would make an excellent midfielder!

  3. MK says:

    Interesting point, our season definitely needs a lift/boost. If Fergie is prepared to try him on the left then why not in the middle of the park. It would give us more flair on the pitch with Berbatov, Hernandez & Nani also there.

    Rooney’s passing this season from the left side has been awesome. You wouldn’t worry about him being bullied in middle of the park like our current centre midfield does.

    Either Fergie is worried about his positional awareness or he doesn’t want to upset the current centre midfields feelings ;o)

  4. Rob says:

    Have thought about this option for a while, maybe Ferguson has aswell! It certainly makes sense I would rather rooney than any of the jokers in midfield at the moment. must be more to it, after what happened with Alan Smith, Ferguson or Rooney may not want to try it.

  5. Agus says:

    Rooney surely is SAF’s Golden Boy. Even if he had bad form at the previous game, he is gonna be the in starting XI next match.
    What I love about rooney is his determination to run n chase the ball, but is it enough ??? He should start scoring regularly like he did last season.

    Midfield definitely need some improvement, because our strikers always play with their back at goal because the midfielders. It would have been different if United captured Ozil or VDV last summer. Suprisingly, they aren’t that expensive !!!

  6. Jacob says:

    How can Fergie think of dropping him when he already gave him a lucrative contract to sign? Converting Rooney to a central midfield role would work. Still better then playing Gibson there.