Manchester United is a changed side now. United has been a side that has been in the process of constant rebuilding ever since Sir Alex Ferguson departed from the United. Many players have drifted in and out of the club and there have been several changes to the outlook of the Man United squad, but one thing that has constantly remained is the presence of Wayne Rooney amongst the starting eleven, but where is he playing now? As a striker? No.
It all started with David Moyes’s first game in charge at Old Trafford where both Danny Welbeck and Robin Van Persie made it to the starting eleven as strikers. There was the name of Wayne Rooney in the starting eleven too, and it left several people baffled as to where will Rooney fit on that day and it was a tactical masterclass both in thought and execution from David Moyes and Wayne Rooney. That entire game, the England’s top scorer played a notch behind the strikers in the earlier minutes but slowly he drifted into the midfield matching Carrick’s and Cleverly’s boots at every occasion and complimenting them sublimely. Rooney dictated the entire proceedings in the second half and arguably, he was the standout performer on that day.
Again though, under Louis Van Gaal’s reign, it almost took months for the gaffer to figure out Rooney’s best position because the lad from Merseyside no longer has the speedy legs of a number 9 to break defensive lines and get through them and nor does he have the trickery with pace he once owned and now suddenly in a recent interview, Wayne said it out loud that he wants to emulate Paul Scholes at United and right away he’s been finding himself playing in the midfield role lately and Louis Van Gaal has provided him the perfect platform that will suit Rooney’s footballing mind which is as sharp as ever.
Right from the FA Cup Semi-final against Everton, Rooney’s been pushed further back and the licence has been given to Martial, Lingard and Rashford to run forward so that Rooney could pick out passes laced with superb accuracy. A space was created for Rooney’s imagination and creativity to flow through and this means that Rooney will have a lot of space in the midfield and he’ll be supported atleast by one midfield beside him.
Rooney for me is the perfect midfield candidate for Manchester United. At the age of 30, his work-rate is commendable, his footwork as clever as ever and his footballing brain is really sharp. He can slide balls through the ground, pick off beautiful passes over the air or he has the blessed ability to outplay the opposition midfielders and create chances. His long balls towards Valencia on the right hand side have been admired and singled out and his ability to press harder, win the ball back and set up counters hasn’t been a new thing because he’s been doing it for years. Rooney has the right vision and he can switch play between the flanks incredibly well and most of all, he’s a leading figure right from the midfield and almost every team would crave for a playmaker like him!
In the long run, Rooney has a minimum of 3-4 more years ahead of him and till that time, an established United side would come through be it under Louis Van Gaal or his successor and I can see very well picture a commanding Wayne Rooney emerging as the perfect midfielder to grace the pastures of Old Trafford.