Crisis of confidence; every player has one at some point in their career, even the greats.
Despite his goalscoring feats for both club and country, Wayne Rooney is no different. Eleven consecutive games of Premier League football without a goal is eating away at the Englishman´s confidence.
Rooney low in confidence?
Twice this season we have witnessed examples of Rooney´s chronic lack of confidence. His hesitation before pulling the trigger against Tottenham Hotspur in the season opener almost cost Manchester United dear.
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Luckily for him Kyle Walker´s attempt to nick the ball of his toe inadvertently guided it into the Spurs net.
Against Swansea he was not so fortunate. A great first touch saw Rooney take the ball down in the Swans' area and ghost past a static defender. Inexplicably he dithered, where the Rooney of old would have shot, and allowed Ashley Williams the time to recover.
At 2-1 down, the striker's mistake surely cost his side a share of the points.
Tonight, Rooney will be in action for England away to whipping-boys San Marino; a team that has conceded 19 goals in six games.
More pertinently, tonight is a chance for the 29 year-old to equal, or surpass Sir Bobby Charlton´s long-standing record of 49 goals for his country. Rooney currently sits on 48.
A win for England will all but seal their spot in next summer's European Championships. The timing of the game could not be more perfect for the United man. He has the chance to make history, and captain his side to qualification at the same time.
Becoming his country's greatest goal-scorer of all-time could be the spark needed to ignite Rooney's stuttering season. It will be a phenomenal achievement if he can achieve it. Should he topple Charlton´s record he will become the first English player to hit the half-century mark of goals.
And here is where the script gets even better for Rooney. Next up for United in the Premier League is their great rivals Liverpool. At Old Trafford.
A scouser born and bred, Rooney is subjected to the wrath of the Liverpool fans whenever the two teams meet. The Croxteth-born striker also shares the distinction of being an Everton fan and a former Toffee's player.
With the eyes of the world watching what is one of the biggest games in the English football calendar, Rooney has the perfect opportunity to prove the doubters wrong. Going into such a high-profile fixture as the new England record-holder could act as a further inspiration.
The next eight days could be vital if we are to see a return to the swashbuckling Rooney of old. He has already shown with his hat-trick against Club Brugge that he has not lost his ability to score. He simply needs his confidence back.
United fans, do you agree? Is Rooney's problem simply a lack of confidence? Let us know in the comments box below.
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