Tuesday 12 January 2016

Rooney reborn since Boxing Day debacle

When the team sheet for United's Boxing Day game at Stoke had Wayne Rooney among the substitutes, it seemed like the final nail in the coffin for Louis van Gaal.

It was a brave call to make for a man whom was under intense pressure and seemingly on the brink of the sack  but it could prove to be a turning point both for him and for Rooney. 

There had been calls for Rooney to be dropped for many weeks prior to that match, but the Stoke game did not seem the right time for Van Gaal to make such a risky gamble and dispense with the skipper.

Now, though, it's beginning to look like a masterstroke.

Rooney's introduction from the bench could not prevent defeat, but he contributed to a vastly-improved second half showing, and has been simply magnificent since.

He was recalled to the team to face Chelsea two days later and was impressive- forcing a good save from Courtois after a mazy run and linking up with Anthony Martial in a much-improved United display.

His sublime finish against Swansea was reminiscent of the player in his prime and his individual display at St James Park' was his best game in a United shirt since Sir Alex retired.

He scored twice- one of which was an absolute screamer- and his vision and weight of pass to put in Jesse Lingard for the second goal was a joy to behold and the Rooney of old.
He worked tirelessly for the team all night, his link-up play was again superb and every pass seemed to find a United shirt- he was simply magnificent and was rightly voted man of the match.

He'd lost his focus and become complacent- his status as skipper seemed to make him immune from being dropped and Van Gaal's refusal to do so was hindering the side.

Rooney now has four goals in three games and has moved into double figures for the season- he sits top of the United goalscoring charts with 11 and continues to close in on Bobby Charlton's all time record.

There's an old adage that form is temporary and class is permanent and I think it's a phrase that was made for Rooney: when his confidence is sky high and he's on the top of his game then he's right up there as one of the best in Europe.

By contrast, when he is not setting the high standards he expects of himself, his belief and confidence drains and his form follows.

Rooney returned to the side with renewed vigour- he'd lost his place and was determined to make sure it didn't happen again- and the results have been spectacular. 

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