Wayne Rooney’s season was similar to the film Alien, at first it seemed a little slow, there was a truly disgusting bit early on, then it quickly became exceedingly entertaining and totally satisfying.
Rooney went from a lone striker figure bereft of goals, to a deep lying centre forward- or false 10 if you will who seemed to be the cog making most of United’s attacks happen.
There’s nothing better as a United fan than watching as yet another one of our player’s throws the media’s criticism of him back in their faces with one stellar performance after another.
Just as David Beckham did in 98/99 and Cristiano Ronaldo did in 06/07, Rooney was able to transform himself from one of the most disappointing players in South Africa, to a misguided, greedy fool, to the team’s superstar again- sort of.
Rooney seemed to find new freedom in having a prolific Mexican in front of him and wide men who loved nothing more than getting on the end of one of his sumptuous passes and converting it into a goal scoring opportunity.
It’s a testament to how far Rooney has evolved as a player that less than a year on from being almost exclusively a lone striker he can slot into deeper role to be arguably even more effective. He may not get as many goals but Rooney’s definitely at the heart of more and fundamentally the team seems less reliant on just his efforts.
Rooney in the false 10 role has been such a success that the question is “will he be reverted back to a standard striker next season?”
Much may seem to depend on the fitness of Chicharito as if the Little Pea was injured then it may be beneficial to push Rooney further up the pitch and allow Dimitar Berbatov the luxury of dropping deep now and again as he often likes to do.
However when Chicharito is fit there’s no denying that both he and Rooney seem to thrive with the Mexican further up field than his Scouse colleague.
With this in mind, you could cast your eye over the potential attacking midfielders being courted by Manchester United and ask “do we really need them?”
Take Wesley Sneijder for example an attacking midfielder in every sense of the word, a truly world class player who would be an asset to any team in world football.
The question is would United really need him if Rooney’s operating in a similar role?
Hayden Shaw wrote on this site over two months ago: “Now, if Rooney is playing that role, being the player who likes to operate in the gap between midfield and defence, making himself hard to pick up, threading the passes and linking the play, then that really doesn’t leave a lot of room for Sneijder.”
I’m inclined to agree.
A similar argument could be put forward for Alexis Sanchez who although able to operate on either wing, is just as adept and some would argue more at home in the false 10 role. With the signing of Ashley Young, plus Antonio Valencia and Nani available for the wide positions it’s questionable as to whether United really need Sanchez, unless he’s to be utilised in a central role.
The problem with using the Chilean just off the striker is that a certain freshly haired tweeter can do the job arguably better than anyone.
Then there’s Samir Nasri, again a player who when needed can be pushed out wide and can even be played as a bog standard central midfielder if needed but without a doubt an AM if ever there was one.
Again would you need Nasri if you had Rooney occupying the deep striker/ attacking midfielder role? Probably not but I’d still buy him if he was available because unlike Sanchez and Sneijder who’d probably cost the same amount as Andy Caroll- I honestly can’t believe I’ve just written that sentence- Nasri could be bought for the fairly cheap price of £10 million- nor many years ago did I expect to one day be saying that.
Rooney’s excellence in the deep striker role, means that forking out 30-40 million beer tokens for the likes of Sneijder or Sanchez may not be the most savvy of moves by United. I know Sanchez can play as a winger, but again do United need another one of those- especially at such a price? Probably not, nor do we need a player best suited just off the striker, not when we’ve already got one who’s proven he’s more than worthy of the role.
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