Is Wayne Rooney the answer for Manchester United's midfield worries?
Manchester United opinion: Wayne Rooney looks more than capable of playing in a deeper role, but should he move there permanently?
In what was a season full of hope, ardor and belief, the Manchester United squad and Sir Alex Ferguson will look back on the 12/13' season with a slight thought of regret, a sense of 'what if?
Up until the 5th of March, there was talk of a historical repeat of the 99' treble. Manchester United looked impressive in the Premier League, they had a quarter-final game booked against Chelsea in the FA Cup and had a crucial away goal against Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.
However, in just 27 days Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League and the FA Cup. A season full of belief was abruptly brought to a halt as United had to pin all their thoughts on a 20th league title.
Sir Alex Ferguson recently labelled this current squad as his “strongest ever” and most firmly believed they had the capability to win all three competitions. Manchester United and Europe have had an intermittent bond in recent seasons.
A Champions League final appearance against Barcelona was followed up by being knocked out of the group stages. However, as painful as it is to look back upon - and despite a horror decision by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir - United looked strong enough to beat Madrid on the night.
So what went wrong domestically?
Manchester United were paired up against Chelsea in the FA Cup and League Cup. It doesn't take a genius to work out that the current Manchester United squad's main vulnerability is the midfield.
Despite the criminally under-rated Michael Carrick - who rightly so has been awarded a spot on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist - the Manchester United midfield just isn't as good as what it should be.
Chelsea boast arguably the most creative attacking trio in world football. Back this up with the lung-busting Brazilian Ramires and the assurance of John Obi Mikel, and the Chelsea midfield have an aura of authority, skill and gusto about them.
In the games against Chelsea, the Manchester United midfield was simply over-run against a well organized Chelsea side looking to take the game to United.
Manchester United fans have been crying out for a midfield enforcer for years, and for parts of the season Wayne Rooney has been the answer.
Wayne Rooney at a glance is the ideal midfielder. He possesses the physical attributes, he has outstanding footballing ability and has the burning passion and desire to excel in the middle of the park.
However, despite boasting all these traits to excel in midfield, Wayne Rooney remains the countries, and one of Europe's top forwards. His 16 goals in all competitions this season, despite spending time on the sidelines through injury and playing out of position, highlights his ability in the final third.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne himself see central midfield as an ideal role for the future - but why take away such an incredible talent from the final third?
Wayne Rooney is just 52 goals short of Sir Bobby Charlton's all time goal scoring record at Manchester United. At the age of 27, with his peak years just around the corner he is likely to break the record.
Rooney may not be remembered in the same holy, iconic stature as Sir Bobby, nor will he get a symbolic bronze statue outside of Old Trafford. But any Manchester United fan will tell you that Wayne Rooney is indispensable to the club. There is not one player in the current squad who has the ability, passion or determination to play anywhere on the pitch in order to win.
Wayne Rooney has been backbone at Manchester United ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left the club. Ronaldo and Robin van Persie may have stolen the plaudits through sheer individual brilliance, but Rooney's ability to adapt to changes on the pitch is reminiscent to Sir Alex's managerial ethos over the years.
Wayne Rooney for the foreseeable future will remain a Manchester United forward. Eventually, he will drop into the midfield and dictate the game from a deeper role. For now, we'll just sit back and watch him claim the all-time leading goal-scorer record at Manchester United, an honour he truly deserves.
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