27 Feb 2015

Rooney's talent wasted in midfield role

How exactly has Louis van Gaal got away with playing Wayne Rooney in a central midfield role this season? Would Manuel Pellegrini play Sergio Aguero in that position? Only a person heavily under the influence of recreational drugs would argue that indeed, the Chilean would.

*cue Dizzee Rascal song 'Bonkers'*

We've had to witness Rooney, a talisman figure at Old Trafford, participate in games that he has had little or now effect in, and this is a player who only last season, was well on course to become Manchester United's all time top goalscorer before hanging up his boots for the final time? Maybe the Dutchman has placed a wager on the serial increased-terms contract seeker not achieving that honour?

United occupy 4th spot in the Premier League at this moment in time, with some very difficult fixtures to play in the coming months.

Rooney has cut a frustrated figure this season, he's been playing with a ball and chain around his ankle, unable to have little influence on games, he's not been able to express himself and let his talent flow because he's being asked to play a role that's not familiar to him. It also doesn't help him that he's coming up against players in the Premier League who are far more experienced and superior to him in that midfield role, Rooney has looked lost in some games.

Rooney is the club captain, I certainly wouldn't fault his commitment and willingness to perform in the centre of the park, the book has to stop with the man that is wasting a player who broke onto the Premier League stage as one of the most exciting English talents we'd seen, since the days that Paul Gascoigne announced himself to the world.

Only recently, Rooney registered his first shot on target from open play in 2015, that tells it's own story. We've now become accustomed to him spending his game time chasing after referees, disputing decisions. Maybe he feels that as captain of the club he needs to air his views, I'd much prefer him using his passion and anger in the final third of the field, use it on opposition defenders, use it on the ball like that time against Newcastle at Old Trafford in 2005, when Rooney unleashed a thunder bolt of a volley in frustration after decisions had gone against United.

In 2004, Alan Smith joined Manchester United from Leeds for £7m. He signed as a forward, a promising English talent at the time. Smith started well, scoring goals, but was soon changed to a central midfield role, Sir Alex Ferguson wanted his commitment and tough tackling style to flourish as a midfielder. It never really worked out for Smith, he ended up at Newcastle, then MK Dons, he now plays for Notts County. He was a player who had big potential but found a switch of role difficult at Old Trafford.

Rooney is a player who should now be at the peak of his career, that 18 year old lad who stood out at Everton should be the key to Manchester United's attack, creating and scoring goals. Comparisons with Paul Scholes are very wide of the mark.

Louis van Gaal has been getting away with it this season, the football has not been what we expected when we were told to wait for his famous 'philosophy' to kick in at the club, 9 months in and supporters are still waiting anxiously for it to announce itself. His stubbornness is his downfall, and playing players out of their natural position. Only recently, he has played Rooney in his natural position, hopefully the 'tinker van' keeps him there and finds him a player who can feed off him, because a top 4 finish is vital for Manchester United this season.