What a silly question, 27 league goals in just 32 appearances, the one truly world-class striker England has at their disposal, a player who at the age of 26 has won more trophies than most clubs have in their entire history?
Before you comment an essay of incredulity please allow me to elucidate my seemingly moronic question. At the recent unveiling of United’s new signing Shinji Kagawa Sir Alex Ferguson stated:
“He [Kagawa] ‘ll play further forward [than Powell]. We shouldn’t be looking at one player changing the way we play but he could make a difference. He can give us that extra in the final third of the field. If his goalscoring record continues he could be a very good player for us.”
“Shinji’s coming to South Africa with us and then to China so I think you’ll be seeing him pretty soon. Once he’s adapted and gets to know some football phrases our players will use, he’ll be used to that. He can start the first league game quite easily. I’ve got no problem with that.”
Kagawa can play in the ‘hole’ or the ‘false 10’ position if you will that Rooney made his home for the brunt of United games last season, tucking in just behind Danny Welbeck. Of course for some games, most notably the league game at Eastlands, Rooney was used as a lone striker with Welbeck being relegated to the bench. I’m aware that Kagawa can also play deeper or out wide, but if he did flourish just behind the striker, it could cause Sir Alex a dilemma.
When I pose the question is Rooney undroppable I’m not talking about resting him for the home game against Reading, or the Carling Cup ties, I’m asking in regards to a big game that United need to win or even for a run of games. If we see Danny Welbeck ‘kick on’ from last season, which I fully expect him to, then he could realistically stake a claim to be picked for the important games. If Kagawa continues in the vein of his previous seasons in the Bundesliga then United could well have one of the most valuable attacking players in the Premier League. Rooney’s goals seemingly make him a player you cannot afford to drop when it’s a must-win match, but that hasn’t prevented Sir Alex from subbing him in the past -Wigan away last season, Blackpool away the year before, nor was ‘goals’ enough to keep Dimitar Berbatov in the side.
When it comes to Wazza’s goals it’s also worth noting that nine of them came from the penalty spot, don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising Rooney after all it’s not a given that penalties are scored, I’m just pointing out that a large chunk of his goals ‘could’ have been converted by someone else. Let’s not forget Rooney went through a spell where he missed four out of eight penalties at one point.
The point I’m making about Rooney’s goals making it impossible for him to be left out of the starting line-up, is that despite his high return that may not necessarily be enough to prevent Sir Alex from dropping him, should Welbeck and Kagawa be on form.
Another reason Rooney’s place may not be guaranteed is the level of his performance can sometimes drop alarmingly at times when ‘his heads not with it.’ I’ve always maintained one of the biggest faults in Rooney’s game is that unlike say, Ronaldo or even David Beckham, when things aren’t rosey for Wazza off the pitch, it can seriously affect his game on it.
Call me a conspiracy theorist but I didn’t think it was a coincidence that the seemingly irrelevant story of Mario Balotelli months prior, having an affair with the hooker Rooney was involved wit, suddenly surfaced -via his agent- during the title run-in. When I saw all the “Rooney’s Hooker..” headlines, my heart sank a little as I feared it could affect him. For the subsequent games following the story versus Queen’s Park Rangers Wigan and Aston Villa- where his own fans groaned when he got the ball- Rooney didn’t exactly have his best three games, although maybe that was a coincidence…
There’s also ‘fitness’ issue whenever Rooney has a bad spell, rumours quickly surface that he has been ‘carrying a knock’ this has been going on for years, most infamously at the end of the 2009-10 season where he seemed to be playing well into the World Cup despite not being ‘fully fit.’
Rooney always wants to play which is admirable and you get the impression that even if his leg was falling off he’d declare himself fit. Sometimes though that ‘fitness’ isn’t just physical, mental tiredness can also affect players which seems to be the case with Rooney.
All this sounds like Rooney-bashing, which isn’t my intention, after all he’s a superb player who’s often been one of the main reasons behind many a United victory. My question is based on should Welbeck and Kagawa shine when given the chancetogether, should Cleverley prosper or Wazza go off the boil, could Rooney’s place in the side come under threat? Yes, he’s on more money than anyone else, but would that really prevent Sir Alex from dropping him if he felt it was for the benefit of the team?
Rooney can operate a number of positions, up top, just off the striker or even deeper if needs be, but then again so can other players and if they’re on form will Sir Alex stick with Rooney, even if the former Everton man isn’t firing on all cylinders.
I’m aware Rooney has missed games before, but that’s almost exclusively been due to being ‘rested’ that’s not what I’m asking, I’m talking about him not being part of the best eleven players available to beat the opposition in a game United need to win.
A big game with Rooney not being picked seems unthinkable, the question is could it be a reality next season?
Am I off my tiny little bald head even asking such a silly question or does anyone else wonder the very same thing?
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