Wayne Rooney has shown over many seasons at Manchester United that he will play pretty much anywehre and will find a way of adapting his game.
In 2009 he said would only draw the line at left-back and at that time the Croxteth born man switched between the support striker role for Carlos Tevez in a 4-4-2 and as a left-sided forward when the team played 4-3-3 with Cristiano Ronaldo in the centre-forward position. He performed both roles with admirably combining gutsy play with his engine-like work-rate.
That team went on to win the Premier league and Champions league double. They followed it up the next year with the Premier League and finished runners up to Barcelona in the Rome final.
In the summer of 2009, Manchester United sold their then biggest asset Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid and Carlos Tevez to Manchester City. The biggest name at the club was now Wayne Rooney.
Thrust into the target man role by Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney did his reputation of a goal scorer no harm with a hatful of goals in the 2009-10 season. A dip in form just before the World Cup in South Africa continued all the way till October, when he openly stated about his intentions to quit Old Trafford. When he regained his form, the manager used him once again as a Second Striker to Dimitar Berbatov or Javier Hernandez.
Rooney's never ending stamina, his vision while facing the goal and ability to drive forward with pace and power from a deeper position, coupled with vicious distance shooting skill made him the perfect man to play between midfield and attack. Although perfect no.10 players in the modern day game resemble a more silky player with immense close control like a Mesut Ozil, Wesley Sneijder, Juan Mata and David Silva, Wayne Rooney provides a different compilation of skill making him a unique no.10.
Rooney went on to win the PFA Player of the Year award in 2011, the season in which Manchester United won their 19th league title. 2011-12 saw Wayne Rooney being utilised more or less in the same role as before. That Manchester United side only lost out to Manchester City on the last day on goal difference.
The summer of 2012 saw the arrivals of current poster boy Robin van Persie from Arsenal and Japanese schemer Shinji Kagawa from Dortmund. The season started out with Wayne Rooney playing behind Robin van Persie in a 4-4-1-1 setup.
As of today, the team has lost only once, when Wayne and Robin have played up top together. Wayne Rooney has not been the indispensable starter he once was at the moment. A loss of form corresponding with the hot streaks of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa (in the latter stages) and the preference of Fergie to use Danny Welbeck in situations where the team defends from the front has cost him his place.
In the past few weeks, Rooney has been deployed alongside Michael Carrick in centre-midfield, with Kagawa playing further up the pitch, just behind the main striker. Although Rooney doesn't look too happy playing this role, his immense passing range as shown on Monday night versus Aston Villa where he raked 50-60 yard passes, the drive and energy he possesses could make him the answer to the midfield problems which United have so far been troubled by.
But he is not born to be a central player like Scholes or Carrick. He could be converted into one, but the transition could either be a success or a failure.
With Robin van Persie the best striker in England, if not in the world at the moment, Wayne Rooney would have to settle for a different role. Playing out wide is a out of question. He neither has the pace nor the trickery to play that role. Centre-midfield alongside an anchor like Carrick could be a possibility but it is an ambiguous move for both club and player. His best role at present seems the one between midfield and attack.
Wayne Rooney must do all he can to improve his form and better Shinji Kagawa, a more natural no. 10. Playing in all parts of the field is only going to hamper his rise to the peak and at 27, he must be at his peak instead of still reaching for it. He should even be thinking about where he would play best for his country in the World Cup 2014 and implement that into his game next season.
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