Sir Alex Ferguson’s Silver Jubilee at Manchester United was celebrated this weekend with a 1-0 win over Sunderland at Old Trafford. A second consecutive 1-0 win in the league for United came from yet another display lacking much in the way of flair.
An own-goal from former Red, Wes Brown, ensured Ferguson could celebrate his big day with 3 points. However he’d have much preferred a more convincing performance from his team whose attack struggled to break Sunderland down.
United were solid in defence to deny a Sunderland team who weren’t backing down. Evra started to get back to his typical strong performance after a questionable few games. Vidic and Ferdinand returned as a reliable defensive duo following a few different faces at centre back. Jones continued his fantastic form at right back preventing attacks on his side with his pace and vigour.
Our Man of the Match however, despite a strong defensive performance and a weak attacking one, was Wayne Rooney. He continued in centre midfield against Sunderland as Ferguson looked to him for a solution to the lack of midfielders.
It took a while for Rooney to get going and he did not really come alive until the second half but neither did United. Once United began to pick the tempo of the game up the converted midfielder looked very comfortable in his new role.
Whilst in midfielder Rooney showed good defensive awareness and dropped back to help out at the back as well as giving the defenders an option to offload the ball, just as he does when playing in a more attacking role. Rooney often plays a free-role position when playing as an attacker, roaming from one end of the pitch to the other following the play. Being in centre midfield allowed him to carry on playing in this style as he could play as a defensive midfielder when Sunderland were on the attack and move forward and support the forward players when United had the ball.
A more positive attacking performance from United in the second half was inspired by Rooney. The attacker showed his ability to adapt by turning into a midfield maestro, some may even say reminiscent of the great Paul Scholes. Rooney’s passing was almost flawless and was effective in starting moves for United.
Rooney was always looking for a pass, long or short, when he collected the ball against Sunderland. Playing a more reserved role allowed him to sit back and monitor the game, using his vision to pull the strings in his side’s attacks.
Another unconvincing win for United will have to do as Ferguson’s men manage to take all the points on his 25 years anniversary at the club. Rooney played an instrumental part in the United team in his new position, however is he missed more in the final third?