Wayne Rooney has spent this season sifting through criticism and getting comfortable on the bench.
While the England captain’s decline has been on the cards for months, this season has marked an unprecedented drop off. Not only has he been dropped by club and country, but his future in the Premier League looks all together in doubt.
However, statistics serve to refute the degree of Rooney’s flop this season. In fact, the numbers suggest that Manchester United owe a lot more to their skipper than they’re willing to give him credit for.
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Deluge of criticism
On the surface, it’s not hard to see why Rooney is being subject to such regular criticism.
Over the course of the past eight months, the 30-year-old has scored just two league goals for the Red Devils. Moreover, in the same time frame, the forward has notched up just one goal from open play for his country.
Rooney’s ventures into midfield seem to have proven unsuccessful too. England’s all time top scorer has been lamented for his simplistic and often negative passing habits.
Furthermore, the United man started in the league at the weekend for the first time since September 18.
It’s clear that it hasn’t taken long for Jose Mourinho to lose faith in his own captain. After all, in the eyes of the Special One, Rooney doesn’t even warrant a start against minnows Zorya Luhansk.
When you look at the numbers though, Rooney’s start to the season might not be going as badly as previously though.
The goals and appearances may be drying up, but the 30-year-old is leading the way for offensive creativity at Old Trafford. This is exemplified by the work and graphic of sports statistician John Burn-Murdoch.
Rooney, with four assists and one goal, has averaged a Premier League assist or goal every 110 minutes. It proves a success rate greater than any other player at the club and sees him rank fifteenth in the league.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored more with six goals, yet only in every 175 minutes does he muster a goal or assist.
Nevertheless, the forward still has a long way to go to mix it with the league’s most productive players. Philippe Coutinho, rather unsurprisingly, leads the way with a rate that betters that of Zlatan by a staggering 100 minutes.
The full top ten can be seen below:
1. Philippe Coutinho
2. Kelechi Iheanacho
3. Alexis Sanchez
4. Romelu Lukaku
6. Roberto Firmino
7. Diego Costa
8. Sadio Mane
9. Theo Walcott
10. Sergio Aguero
It’s certainly a depressing read for United supporters.
Nevertheless, it goes to show that Rooney is still bringing a lot to the table at Old Trafford.
Just because his goal drought proves concerningly unfamiliar, the 30-year-old shouldn’t be solely judged on this given his change in position. After all, despite United’s rich reserves of midfielders, no one can compare to his creativity.
Either supporters need to slacken their Rooney hating or Zlatan and Paul Pogba really need to step up their game.
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