Wayne Rooney had managed no shots on target in his last six Premier League games before registering his first in over 560 minutes of football against Swansea on Saturday. It was his first in almost two months since the turn of the year and the debate regarding his deployment in midfield has been raging and it’s a no brainer since Rooney will almost certainly end his career as Manchester United and England’s all-time top scorer.
He needs four more goals to break the England record and another 25 for United to add to his 225 goals which will take him past Sir Bobby Charlton. Dennis Law’s 237 seems only a matter of time, although there is also the remote possibility of Rooney leaving at the end of this season if United don’t qualify for the Champions League.
His natural position has always been as a centre forward. Not an out and out striker, not a midfielder. He has achieved a lot at club level — 5 league titles, 1 champions league title and 2 League Cups — and they came with him playing in the advanced positions. No doubt he likes to drop deep and help out the team in midfield because he is a great team player who works hard and gives his all for the entire 90 minutes.
Van Gaal has had trouble fielding Angel di Maria in one fixed position over the past few months, and even though they lost against Swansea, the template of that particular line-up is what the Dutchman should stick with going forward. United had one of their better games in a difficult fixture and their goal came after a very well constructed move finished off by Ander Herrera who really should be starting more games. Along with Blind, the Spaniard offers much more than Rooney in midfield and with Di Maria being used as the shuttler, Rooney can do the defensive duties better than both Falcao and Van Persie while also providing a threat going forward. Indeed, with Van Persie going off on crutches at the Liberty Stadium, Van Gaal might not have an option but to field the duo of Falcao and Rooney up front together in the upcoming matches, and that can only bode well for United.