The real Wayne Rooney stands up

This could be Wayne Rooney’s season. No, this will be Wayne Rooney’s season. It has to be. For too long has this prodigious talent stood in the shadow of a certain Portuguese maestro at Manchester United. No, not Nani. Now that this distraction has left, it’s time for Rooney to show why Sir Alex Ferguson made him the world’s most expensive teenager in world football back in 2004.

Rooney burst onto the scene at Everton – who could forget that goal against Arsenal? – having broken goalscoring records at every age group level. At the time, he scored more goals than matches he played in. Scoring a hat-trick on his United debut only cemented his place as a legend in the making. But Rooney never seemed to match the progress that Cristiano Ronaldo was making on the pitch.

The Englishman played at the 2006 World Cup without fully recovering from a metatarsal injury. Such was the hype and pressure placed on this young man’s shoulders that some British journalists would have you believe that he could walk on water and juggle a ball at the same time. They were right about the latter. Indeed, many blame Ronaldo for Rooney not being able to realise his true potential. It started with the famous winking incident in the World Cup quarter-final that led to Ronaldo contributing to Rooney’s red card. The Scouser may have stamped on Ricardo Carvalho but there’s no denying that Ronaldo’s protests to the referee had an effect.

While United did everything to appease Ronaldo after this debacle in order to get him to return to England, not many in Rooney’s shoes, as big as they may be, would have forgiven the Portugese player’s actions that night. But that’s Rooney for you, always putting team before self. These concessions have carried onto the pitch as well because Rooney has been wasted on the wings in the past few seasons at the tactical expense of Ronaldo’s floating role up front. Rooney said nothing in public because the team was winning.

Rooney’s work ethic and selfless play has meant that fans have not seen the player in his favoured forward position as much as we should, especially in the biggest matches. It was desperately frustrating to watch Rooney in the Champions League final against Barcelona last season, out of place and out of touch with the game. Rooney certainly has the class and ability to be mentioned alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Kaká and Fernando Torres. But this will only happen if the team is built around him. The good news is that for the first time in Rooney’s United career, Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to do just that this season. At least that’s what he says.

Rooney enjoys dropping deep into midfield to pick up the ball and be involved in build-up play. Alongside Dimitar Berbatov, playing along the shoulder of the last defender and holding up the ball like glue as he always does, Rooney will be given a free license to feed off the Bulgarian. Berbatov is capable of finding space for others where few can, allowing the former Tottenham man to play Rooney into areas where he can do the most damage. It’s a defender’s worst nightmare to see Rooney running at them.

How Rooney links up with Michael Owen will also be crucial, not just for United but England as well. Rooney, barring injury, is guaranteed a starting place for his country at the World Cup next year. Meanwhile, Owen will spend this season proving to Fabio Capello that he deserves the place alongside his new teammate. With Rooney playing to show he can be United’s new main man and Owen finally joining a team that can create chances for him, this season be a turning point in their respective careers. Each has had their fair share of bad luck with injuries. Owen’s problems are well-documented, while Rooney has picked up knocks just as he starts to hit form. That he has missed 19 league games in the past two seasons is testament to this. They both have something to prove.

We’ve seen Rooney score some breathtaking goals, now it’s time for the player to add some scruffy tap-ins to his repertoire. In Ronaldo, United has lost a 30 goals-a-season player. In Rooney, playing through the middle, the team has that and more. Rooney has the potential to be a better player than the Portuguese ‘winker’. Averaging 20 goals in each season with United so far, imagine what Rooney could do playing up front for the majority of games?

Wayne, be selfish, run more with the ball, shoot more, and be the player you’re meant to be. Advice like that can only be given to a handful of players in world football, and Wayne Rooney certainly falls in that category. This will be his season.

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Comments

  1. bryan says

    his problem has never really been scoring goals, but consistency. Almost every season he has these “spells” where he’ll go a month scoring 8-10 goals and being on fire, then it’d be followed by 1-2months where he’ll only score about 5 goals and will miss lots of chances. He needs to cut out those barren spells from his game.

  2. Marco says

    Completely agree with Bryan. Rooney needs to get consistency. His talents are undeniable, but his progress since coming to United has been stunted, to put it mildly. Whether it’s because of Ronaldo or not, I don’t know. But he will never get a better chance than this to come good. Don’t get me wrong – any striker who can score 20+ goals a season in the EPL can be considered top-notch. But Rooney, with his talent, can be so much better. Let’s hope that he does.

  3. Marco says

    Oh, and I hope Nani continues to perform like he has in the first few games of the season. He looks like he’s got a new lease on life since Ronaldo left. Now, if only Anderson could find his scoring boots.

  4. venu says

    bryan, I agree with you but maybe Ronaldo not being there and him playing up more would reduce those barren patches?

  5. aimanutd10 says

    I seriously couldn’t have put it better. Absolutely amazing. Wayne Rooney is the best player in the world at the moment, reason being, he is unselfish; he gave up his favored position just for Ronaldo. I mean come on, we hardly comeover players like him in this day and age.
    I believe this will be his season, it just has to be. He will inshAllah, prove to the world why he was the most expensive teenager in the world. He plays for the best club ever and under the most experienced manager and alongside some world class players. I hope and pray that this will be his season. I can see him scoring around 25 goals, hopefully more!! But yeah, this can be his season. Not only for United but for England as well. We have to show him our support. When he plays well we will cheer and praise him, when he doesn’t play to his usual standard we will still cheer him. No player in the world like Rooney, no team in the world like United.
    Let’s be one, let’s stay United. This will our year!!

  6. gingerprince says

    Bryan you are correct to some extent…but Wazza has also been unlucky with injuries, the last time he was on his “hot streak” he got injured (the game against Wigan where he scored in the 3rd minute and then almost immediately picked up a knock) and I think that happened the season before as well….

  7. Nippy says

    To get the best out of Rooney the midfield needs to be effective or he tends to have to compensate for any weaknesses with selfless tracking back which although a good thing can put a drain on his performance as a striker. Scholes and Fletcher were great last weekend and this allowed Rooney to do what he does best.

  8. Devilton says

    If SAF really wanted to support Rooney he would bring in someone like Edwin Deko (sp?) someone who is powerful in the air and will allow Rooney to make runs from deep. We desperately need that sort of striker to maximize Rooney’s full potential. At present Rooney still drops too deep and fetches the ball thereby allowing defenders to line up…

    He is most effective when the ball is played over the top or to his feet and he uses his pace and superior movement to create shooting opportunities.

    SAF has invested in wingers, but all that does is highlight just how bare we are in the midfield with nobody rushing into the box to attack headers and our strikers limited aerial ability.

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