Wayne Rooney has been a key man at Man United for quite some time now and has provided the reds faithful with some glorious moments of sheer class and brilliance. He has been used in a variety of roles, but the one that I believe will get the best out of him if he is selected is a deeper role.
It’s fair to say that the former Everton striker is yet to hit top form this season, but that it is mainly down to the injury he suffered in the 3-2 victory over Fulham. With United having better attacking options than they did last season, it seems as if Rooney will have to be at his best in order to retain his spot in the team. Robin Van Persie has been the stand out performer for the Reds this season and has been excellent upfront on his own, with Shinji Kagawa playing just behind him. Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez haven’t received as much game to as they would have liked to and with Rooney slowly returning back to his best, that may continue for the rest of the season.
In United’s Champions League match against Cluj, where they ran out 2-1 winners, Rooney claimed 2 sensational assists and showed glimpses of what his partnership with Van Persie can strike up. When the Dutchman arrived at Old Trafford in the summer, many had anticipated Rooney and Van Persie to form a prolific partnership, but the duo have only started in just the one game together. But you can already see the understanding between them, almost as if they have a telepathy, where as soon as the collect the ball they know where the other player is, something that is seen as a rare trait in a strike partnership.
Rooney has been utilised in a variety of roles for United, often playing in the lone striker role, aswell as being used up top with many different strike partners and even playing on the left-flank on some occasions a position which in my opinion doesn’t get the best out of 26-year-old. For him to be as effective as possible, it is important that Rooney has the freedom to roam around the field and is able to easily find team-mates. He is so calm, composed and comfortable on the ball that it makes you wonder how he is not a central midfielder. Many people say that you look a better player if you have good players around you and with intelligent players like Scholes, Cleverley and Carrick in midfield and then the creativity and tricky play from the likes of Nani, Valencia, Young and Kagawa, you sense that Rooney will receive a lot of the ball in positions where he will be most threatening. The players mentioned above are all different players with different strengths and weaknesses, though one thing they all have is the ability to know when to find a player and when to give each other the ball.
Another advantage of Rooney playing in a deeper role is that he will have more space in the so-called ‘hole’. He will be the link between midfield and attack and will always pose a threat to any opposition. One of Rooney’s many talents he possesses is his ability to find space very easily. He drops off from the defender and gives his team-mate a fairly simple pass to play. When he is in that space, he can do just about anything. He can play through an unbelievable pass behind the defence, using his vision, which allows him to spot a pass that only fans in the top-tier may notice. An example of this being his superb pass to Van Persie for the second goal against Cluj in the Champions League. If he’s not sending killer pass and opening up defences, Rooney punishes the opposition with his expert shooting. He is an absolute master at popping up around the edge of the box and firing in some beautiful shots that only the best keepers can save.
Even though he may have lost his huge appetite for the game and his fiery attitude on the pitch, Rooney has matured as both a footballer and a person. We tend to forget that he is in fact still only 26, yet it seems as if he has been around for quite a while now, since he made his debut ten years ago at the tender age of 16. I believe he has improved certain parts of his game and developed an exceptional footballing brain, which means he knows when to give the ball and is aware of his surroundings on the pitch. He is yet to get off the park this season, which is something that usually doesn’t happen to player of Rooney’s calibre, but if you take into account they injury he endured then you understand why he hasn’t scored yet. Rooney has been magnificent ever since he first graced the turf of Old Trafford, but if he deployed in a deeper role, just behind Van Persie, we may see both Rooney and United at their very best.