Sunday’s derby may be a distant memory to the Manchester City squad, but to many of us Reds is something that feels like only yesterday such was the euphoria of Robin Van Persie’s last minute winner, breaking our noisy ones unbeaten home record.
While much of the talk was naturally about the Dutchman’s late strike, or Ashley Young’s ‘goal’ or even Carlos Tevez’s kick out at Phil Jones, the brace by United’s former star striker almost went unnoticed.
Two goals against Manchester City doesn’t suddenly make you a top class striker -after all even Siem De Jong has managed that this season, but when your record is now 150 Premier League goals by the age of 26, it’s pretty hard to ignore the idea you may know how to find the back of the net.
For several months now, perhaps even longer the notion that Wayne Rooney is the ‘answer’ to United’s midfield problems has been mooted by many, including myself as we search for a Roy Keane shaped void to finally be filled after over seven years of waiting.
The problem with the theory that Rooney is a midfielder is like the prosecution’s case against Carlito Brigante, there’s a lack of real evidence to support it, in fact there’s even evidence to the contrary.
If you watch the way Rooney CAN lead the line when asked to then there’s little denying he’s more than capable, after all he very nearly carried us to the title in 2009-10 doing just that for much of the season. Have we forgotten all the headers we saw him put away that season? No of course not, but “he’s much better playing deep, dictating the play” is an argument I’ve even made myself. Is he though? Sometimes Rooney’s touch and passing seems to desert him, more so when he’s occupying the deeper role and while he’s never one for shirking a tackle it’s hardly a big part of his game.
Rooney as a midfielder seems to have been born from a lack of a real top quality CM all rounder at Old Trafford rather than any real talents for the role the Scouser may have- especially when compared with what he’s proven to do upfront.
The emergence of Anderson this season should have dispelled any notion of using Rooney as a midfielder because with Michael Carrick sitting in front of the back four, there was no need for both Ando AND Wazza in the centre of the park. The Brazilians injury shouldn’t really matter though as there’s still Tom Cleverley to call upon who is nothing if not a central midfielder- he’s certainly not a winger or a striker.
Rooney showed on Sunday what we’ve been missing from him, the freedom to attack crosses and through balls, without having to come deep into his own half to collect the ball in the first place. Yes, he’s a tendency to drop back whenever he plays but if we could just bring ourselves to allow him and Robin Van Persie to form an actual striker partnership – with Wazza – both of them switching the deeper role as they often tend to do, then the rewards could be unthinkable.
The idea of Rooney as a midfielder seems to be a complete waste of his talents- and dare I say something that works better in theory than it does in reality due to his own limitations.
Your thoughts would be appreciated……