Manchester United have made steady progress over the last month or so. This was highlighted by their resounding 5-0 triumph against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League. However, consistency has been the main problem for David Moyes' men throughout the season.
On November 10, United beat Arsenal 1-0 and many expected them to kick on and go on a Ferguson-esque type run which more often than not would yield a Premier League title come May. Unfortunately, it seems to be one step forward, two steps back for United. They followed up the Arsenal result with a 2-2 draw away to Cardiff and their 5-0 win in Germany with a 2-2 draw away to Spurs.
One man who has been the definition of consistency at Old Trafford this season is Wayne Rooney. Moyes must be credited with Rooney's resurgence. The United boss inherited a disillusioned and out of form Rooney and transformed him into the Wayne Rooney of old. Enthusiastic, energetic and confident - Rooney is back and this will spell trouble for the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.
We must not forget, while Ferguson was a great manager and always put Manchester United first, he mishandled Rooney time-and-time again. Often moved to the wing to accommodate Ronaldo or Van Persie, or to midfield when Carrick and Scholes were injured, Rooney's form would often suffer as a result.
Rooney has also had to deal with Ferguson's alleged comments that he requested a transfer, Ferguson's questions over his fitness in his autobiography and an early gaf by David Moyes when he said that Rooney would be needed as back up to Robin van Persie.
However, Van Perise is no longer the first name on the team sheet, it's Rooney. Moyes has got Rooney firing again. He looks fit, happy and his performance against Leverkusen and Spurs were nothing short of majestic.
Under Ferguson, Rooney was praised when it was due but was never spoke of in the same revered tongue that Scholes, Giggs, Ronaldo and Van Persie were. While Van Persie is still key to United's cause, he is no longer the teacher's pet.
While Rooney is carrying an average United side and they are nine points adrift of Arsenal, their 12 game unbeaten run has to be taken into account. Crucially, United are only three points behind City and five behind Chelsea. Don't forget Arsenal have only faced one top side - United and lost.
United badly need to keep Rooney, Van Persie and Vidic fit - Jonny Evans must start every game as he is now United's best partner for Vidic and, above all, they must recruit a top class creative midfield player in January.
Arsenal have the best midfield in the league, City the best attackers, Chelsea the best defence. But United have experience, heart, drive and Rooney. With or without Ferguson, if United are in the mix when the finish line is in sight, write them off at your peril. If United do make a push for the title, Wayne Rooney will lead the charge.
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