Football

Rooney wasted in new role

Rooney scored from his midfield role against Galati. (©GettyImages)
Rooney scored from his midfield role against Galati. (©GettyImages).

Wayne Rooney netted his 12th club goal of the season for Manchester United against Otelul Galati on Wednesday night, but given the chances hemorrhaged from the Romanian side, the England forward will be left thinking why it wasn't more.

Strangely, for an evening in which United mustered 17 attempts on goal, the club's top scorer this season managed only two of them.

The lack of goalmouth action for the 26-year-old is born out of his new-found position, pivoting United's midfield.

The withdrawn role means United will benefit from a calming influence in midfield, one who has an eye for a pass, provides a goal threat from midfield, can build from the back and has the discipline to keep shape in the middle.

On paper, those attributes make Rooney the ideal player for the role of chief creator, one that Paul Scholes used to occupy, and one that Tom Cleverley is currently trying to master.

Rooney took up the role against Everton last weekend, as he did during the latter stages against Manchester City, and while United have a number of central midfielders on the sidelines, you have to consider whether his success in the position will lead to a permanent switch.

Injury to Cleverley, coupled with Michael Carrick being outcast and Darren Fletcher having only completed back-to-back games once this season, Rooney has been rather thrust into the role.

However, while Rooney may provide control in midfield with the ball and a workmanlike approach off it, its what he provides in the final third that not only will United miss while he lies deeper, but also can't replace.

He may have an all-round ability, but in dropping Rooney deeper, perhaps for the long-term, there is sure to be an adverse affect on United's attacking ability that won't be outweighed by his impact in midfield.

How ineffectual United were going forward coupled with the obvious chasm left in their attack against Galati and Everton means that despite looking excellent on the ball, Rooney is merely filling a role rather than excelling.

Rooney was commonly used on the left-hand side during United's Champions League adventures in years gone by and often the England man was ineffectual and left frustrated, a similar pattern appears to be occurring here

Like with that theory, Ferguson spent years trying to make the system work before eventually throwing in the idea. Soon enough, United were reaching three European Cup finals in four years.

Fears that he might retain the position are born out of his potential replacements fitness problems, and his ability to slot into the role seamlessly, but would you see, however talented, any of the world's best side's utilising their best player well out of position?

Many comment that it's United depth that has won them title after title, but it must be worrying for supporters at Old Trafford that Ferguson's faith in his midfield replacements extend to adapting the role of his top scorer.

Granted, the likelihood of Rooney staying there for the remainder of the season is unlikely but with the gap left by Scholes growing ever still, and with the similarities between the two undeniable, Ferguson may be tempted to give this current experiment extra time.

Topics:
European News
Football
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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