Date: 14th December 2012 at 1:46am
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Is this the strike of a midfielder?

Is this the strike of a midfielder?

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……

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22 responses to “What A Waste Of Wayne Rooney”

  1. Mark says:

    Spot on. Never bought the argument that Rooney operates best in a deeper role myself. He needs to be playing up top with RvP with both of them dovetailing with each other. One coming short while the other stays on the last shoulder and vice versa. Pretty much how Rooney and Welbeck played together last season. This is what we saw in the derby and hopefully what we will continue to see going forward. Of course to do this you need a platform of good possession or else we’ll see Rooney dropping deeper and deeper in an attempt to see more of the ball. This is why the performances of Carrick, Cleverley, Scholes, Fletcher, and Anderson (or whoever plays in CM) are so key.

  2. trevor says:

    I agree with the article and Rooney will have to keep filling the void through Fergies inability to sign a top class holding midfielder. Rooney should be playing on the shoulder of Van Persie with Kagawa and Cleverley supplying the ammunition.
    United are only short of two players a centre half and a holding midfielder and play either Smalling or Jones right back. Did you see where Rafael was standing ball watching when City scored their second goal, In the middle of the 6 yard line instead of on the post

  3. Jon Wilmot says:

    I’ve never been a fan of Rooney as an orthodox central midfielder but, despite his goal tally, I don’t see him as an out and out striker either. His best position is where he played in the derby, the classic number nine position, between midfield and the centre forward. As Sunday showed, he’ll still get chances to score from there. Rooney’s desire and work-rate will always see him drift, which is why having him as the focal point of the attack can cause us problems.

    I agree about him dropping too deep though – I don’t want to see him picking the ball up in his own half. Will be interesting to see what SAF does when Kagawa returns.

  4. Andrew says:

    I think Rooney is being used as a number 10 and we have always had a striker willing to drop deep. It started with Cantona and carried on with Sheringham and even Dwight Yorke. I think Rooney prefers playing this role and to be honest prefers being second fiddle to Van Persie. It gives him freedom which is what he wants. He doesn’t want to be held to pay upfront because he never holds his position. Rooney wants to be everywhere either creating chances and trying to score himself.

  5. lamar says:

    I believe that’s why saf got kagawa. So we can have some creativity down the middle of the park without relying on rooney to do double-duty.

  6. realist says:

    its not about whats good for rooney, but the team on the day!

  7. MyCowIsTheBest says:

    The article is spot on. But I think instead of saying that using Rooney as a midfielder is a waste of his talent, we should say playing him in BOTH position is wasting his talent.

    When we use Rooney as a midfielder, we are using his talent of playmaking. But it makes Rooney think too much when we ask him to be the striker again and delays his progress as a striker.

    For me, I think Sir Alex should decide whether Rooney is our striker or our midfielder. So if Sir Alex decides that Rooney is a striker, we can go out and buy the likes of Falcao or other world class strikers.

    On the other hand, if Sir Alex decides Rooney is our striker, then we should just go out and buy a midfielder.

  8. LT3313 says:

    Rooney is definitely wasted in a 2 man central midfield. That’s just crazy, he’s not a passer, not a tackler,

    At the tip of a diamond, wasted again because it relies too much on being creative and not enough goalscoring.

    Wide forward I think he’s good but would be better with more pace … which leads me to

    Behind the front man … he’s not the quickest but Rooney is so strong on the ball he’s fantastic at holding on to possession in those tight areas around the box…. alied to his brilliant work-rate and inspirational leadership he’s best when playing as a No. 10, still in touch with the midfield, can roam and swap with the wide players and cover back in midfield.

    Best No. 10 in the world, (exc Messi).

  9. LT3313 says:

    as for being wasted not leading the line … RvP is doing that every bit as well as Rooney can, maybe better, Rooney can be a streaky striker … RvP is beautifully consistent, like Ruud.