Wayne Rooney has gone from being the driving force behind Manchester United to being a mere passenger in its success, now. Should the skipper leave the club for a new challenge? We put our analysis forward :
Rooney has been an enigmatic figure in the recent past of Manchester United.
Although he’s the captain, he has never single handedly “led” the team you expect captains to.
With the constant change of formations and an array of 3 coaches in a spell of 4 seasons, he has been played in a variety of positions, going from the team’s top number 9 to playing as an attacking midfielder, a left winger, a right winger and even a central midfielder or playmaker.
The constant shift in his position has led him rather isolated to the ones for whom he had sacrificed his role.
During the early 2000s under Sir Alex Ferguson, Rooney was deployed as a striker with Cristiano Ronaldo on the left wing and the duo formed a fantastic partnership.
After Ronaldo’s departure, United never quite found a striker who guaranteed them goals except Rooney (not quite, but okay) and that changed with the arrival of Robin van Persie in 2012.
Van Persie became United’s go-to guy for goals and the under the tactical tweaks of David Moyes and “philosophical” tweaks of Louis van Gaal, the shining supernova of Wayne Rooney had dwindled to a mere dwarf star.
Rooney may have found brief periods of success but then again, he was a peripheral figure in most games as United finished a mere 5th in the league table to qualify for the Europa League and it was Van Gaal’s departure that made way for Jose Mourinho in the 2016-17 season.
Things went from bad to worse for the English national top scorer as his performances drew a lot of flak and criticism as his “statistics” where he had racked up 3 assists were rather shown to be accidental and unintended passes which were directed to the goal by another player and were called as fortunate strikes.
Sooner rather than later when it seemed as if the Englishman was untouchable in the United squad, the bubble was burst and the captain was made to grace the subs bench for quite some time.
31 years of age, no physical prowess to boast of, (un)arguably past his prime and rather deadwood in the squad for which talented players are robbed off game time : such has been the condition of Wayne Rooney in the current season.
His exit from the club can actually allow players such as Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to play in their favorite positions which involve Pogba switching roles with Mata as the ACM and Mkhitaryan occupying the right wing with more freedom and command.
Up until now, Rooney has been deployed primarily as an ACM under Mourinho fr which he lacks the vision and speed whereas playing him as a central midfielder is kind of a no-brainer, giving his wayward passing.
In the case if Rooney exits, it is most likely he’ll opt for either MLS or some other high profile division rather than the top European leagues given the age factor.
However, his exit can build a psychological boost in a dynamic manner for the current United squad, as it will make them realize that a) no one gets their squad place guaranteed and b) with one tactical tweak, 3-4 players can build on their momentum and prove their value to the club.
Their is still time for Man United to cash in on an ageing star’s hype, with clubs such as LA Galaxy in the MLS already being pipped as the frontrunners to sign the Englishman.
Paul Pogba, who has so far been far from his best will benefit the most from his move as he can play in his favored position and help the team more productively. Zlatan, who has lacked the service of some fine midfielders will be the 2nd signing to reap the benefits with Pogba, Mata and Mkhitaryan playing behind him.
Further chances increase the game time for young guns like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, who are still preferred over United’s captain.
Should Wayne Rooney exit the club while he can or does the United star still have it in him to turn things around?
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.