Wednesday 19 August 2015

Rooney's role on the Wayne as LVG ponders striker's position

It's been said that one of the reasons for Wayne Rooney's recent struggles in front of goal is due to lack of service from wide.

I was at the Brugge match on Tuesday and let me tell you that this is not the case.
Memphis, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj frequently looked to Rooney as the target man and played him in, but too often his lack of movement and hesitancy in possession meant that a lot of the Reds attack broke down.

Put Rooney in midfield and he wants to get back up front, make him the number 10 and he wants to be the number nine.
Ask him to be the number nine as the main striker and he drops deep.
Basically, he still wants to be the kid in the playground who plays everywhere and this surely poses more questions than answers for United and LVG. 

The fact that his replacement, Marouane Fellaini, had more of an impact in the seven minutes he was on the field than Rooney did for the other 80 or so said it all- it was only when Chicharito came on and Rooney dropped a little deeper did he have something of an influence on the game.

There, playing in 'the hole' behind Hernandez, Rooney cleverly set up Memphis for a chance that the Dutchman should have scored, and his vision and range of passing were key as United opened up a two-goal first leg cushion.

It's clear to me that this is Rooney's best position- he is no longer an out and out striker, so the question of who that will be is one that Van Gaal needs to answer.

There is no questioning Rooney's work-rate, as usual, but he seems lacking in confidence,  a yard or two short of pace and is not having enough influence on United playing as the main centre-forward. 

Whether this is because of age or the fact that his game has simply evolved I cannot say, but we've reportedly bid for Thomas Muller and should we acquire him, he should be the man to lead the line as the focal point of our attack. 

Rooney is still an integral part of this United side (he is, after all, our captain) and his place in the side does not appear to be under threat (although that may be because Van Gaal has no one else, at present, who can fill the number nine spot).
It is clear, though, that's Rooney's future should be as a slightly deeper lying playmaker behind the front man where his range of passes and clever touches unlock defences for a 25-goal-a season striker. 

Should we not sign anyone else in this window, then perhaps Javier Hernandez could fill the berth or, given his performance last night, maybe its worth playing Memphis further forward.

Whatever happens, there's plenty to ponder for LVG and, in particular, for the skipper. 

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