Wayne Rooney is a complicated character. For someone whose game is based significantly on physicality, he is cavalier about his health. But the probably exaggerated tabloid stories of cigarettes and alcohol aside, the former Everton player has become something of a ‘jack of all trades’ at Manchester United, albeit a very good one.
And like his old Merseyside mate Steven Gerrard, the Scouser’s best position and role remains unclear.
Rooney was a prodigy. A Premier League débutant at sixteen, the Liverpudlian set Goodison Park alight. He swiftly moved to bigger stages, England and Manchester United. The England striker was the star of Euro 2004 and then went on to score a hat-trick on his United debut. Big things beckoned for the then eighteen year old.
The striker was the single bright spot in the dark transition years during which John O’Shea often featured in central midfield, Cristiano Ronaldo was merely a trick merchant and pundits and fans alike were calling for Sir Alex Ferguson’s head. With Van Nisterlooy up-front as a traditional number nine, Rooney was liberated – free to try anything that struck his fancy. Fans called him the white Pelé for he had the potential to live up to that lofty appellation.
There has always been a sense of naïveté about Rooney – at least on the pitch. He perhaps worked a little too hard. The striker got wound up by his opponents or even his teammates. And maybe it is Rooney’s enthusiasm that led him to his current predicament.
Even in 2007/08, with United steeped in avant-garde tactics, Rooney more often than not was the ‘reference point’ striker. The Englishman roamed but not to the extent of Carlos Tevez and Ronaldo. It is unclear whether Rooney unselfishly remained more stationary to give a focal point to the team or whether Sir Alex explicitly instructed the Scouser to do so. Certainly Rooney was a better candidate for that particular role than Tevez, who is comparatively smaller and weaker. But it remains a mystery why Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t preferred for that quasi target man role, given his aerial superiority.
Then the following year Ronaldo stepped up to the role and Rooney was very much shunned out to the left to play the defensive winger role the Portuguese could not.
The following season marked a crucial change in Rooney though – he became a destructive force, scoring heaps of goals but creating very little. Rooney no longer scored scorching volleys and crazy lobs but mundane tap-ins and headers, with determination and power and not skill and imagination. It is a sad thought for pure of mind that the player who scored that volley against Newcastle is no more.
Rooney remains the creative heartbeat of both United and England but that fact reflects more the relative dearth of creativity in both sides than Rooney’s excellence. It is hard not to blame Ferguson for the metamorphosis. A season of mopping up after Ronaldo “ruined” Rooney but the Scot had to put United before the player. Ronaldo, like Cantona, is talented enough to be treated differently. It is his flexibility – Ferguson’s aptitude for seeing the heart of football matters and his ruthlessness in carrying out the plan – that lies at the very core of the United manager’s success.
But has Sir Alex truly “ruined” Rooney?
For one thing, Rooney never was and never will be a true number ten. His technique is good but remains primitive compared to the likes of Xavi Hernández and Paul Scholes. Rooney’s touches are not so good that the England international can easily escape the clutches of markers – a must in every playmaker’s toolbox. Crucially Rooney lacks composure, the essential coolness of head. He is more staff-sergeant leading the charge with the enlisted than a major directing the matters from afar.
The Englishman’s play remains largely bipolar – he either plays it extremely safe or extremely risky. At 25, it is probably too late for the United player to learn how to dictate tempo; how to effortlessly link the extreme aspects of his play.
Undoubtedly Rooney’s skills at number ten have regressed. Fortunately Rooney’s number nine skills have come leaps and bounds. Despite his average stature, the Liverpudlian became an aerial presence. His finishing and positioning, especially in the box, have improved noticeably. If Rooney was a hot-headed creator in his youth, the United striker is now a seasoned forward who can also create. Instead of becoming a good – but not great – playmaker, Rooney has become a great ‘nine-and-a-half.’
Andrei Shevchenko is primarily known for his finishing – or the lack of it – in Britain but was hailed as a “universal player” by Valeriy Lobanovskyi, the legendary Dynamo Kyiv coach. During his Milan years, the Ukrainian used a cache of skills to form deadly partnerships with a cadre of trequartisti. In Carlo Ancelotti’s decidedly central systems, where it wasn’t uncommon to see Kaká, Rui Costa, Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo all at the same time, Shevchenko’s completeness truly shone. The Ukrainian’s movements compensated for the lack of natural width and created room for the playmakers to strut their stuff.
The man himself sees Rooney in a similar mould.
“He has probably the biggest working area in the modern game,” said Shevchenko.
“He moves constantly to try to fill the channels in attack, at the same time creating spaces for his team-mates. It’s true to say he can do anything on the pitch.”
The former Chelsea player formed a deadly partnership with Pippo Inzaghi, the man “born offside.” With Javier Hernández more than comfortable playing off the shoulders of the last defender, Rooney’s budding partnership with the Mexican is an intriguing prospect.
24 thoughts on “Is Rooney ruined?”
I’ve often felt Fergie abuses Rooneys willingness to run himself into the ground….(i assume because most of the others are’nt capable of it) and for that reason i don’t think Wayne is as happy as he should be. He got us to within a point of winning us the title last season literally single handedly. He took up the struggle brilliantly when Ronaldo left, that certainly can’t be said for most of the others. He’s worked his tits off for United and its a crying shame his entheusiasm and infectiousness has’nt rubbed off on some of the squad. He owes us nothing in my book. Quality player, the end.
I still maintain that when we find that elusive central midfield playmaker we’ve all been talking about that Rooney and the other players who are out-of-form will slip back into their natural roles with ease; Rooney’s dilemma isn’t a personal one; it’s a function of United’s, as yet, incomplete squad!
What a load of rubbish. It doesn’t matter what number the guy wears,
It is what he does on the pitch. Last year he was on target to match Ronaldo’s goal record and now he is ‘ruined’?
This blog is nothing but a dirty red top compared to other, less objectionable offerings on the web.
Spoon – presuming you don’t read the site normally then… shame you can’t make you point without throwing in an insult.
judging by your comment i assume you don’t understand football at all
“The question is Rooney ruined”
As i am not a “brain Doctor” and i suspect most lads/lasses that support United are not either.
I have always felt through watching Sir Alex speak about Rooney he, like he did before the “treachery” speaks so highly of him and with a fatherly love and smile.I dont see the same in return and thats nothing to do with youthfullness this player is 25 lets remind ourselves although he seems to have been at United for an eternity.
strikers as we know go through barren spells particularly young ones of scoring goals resulting as we know in lack of confidence to try the speculative, he has lost this.
He has also in my opinion lost a yard of pace and he looks heavier in weight.He simply is not thinking and playing way to deep in the field.How many times can you think of Rooney scoring from outside the 18 yard box a few not many more!
In the box while I understand our delivery from Valencia and Nani/Evra/Fletcher is not what it should be the crosses, in fairness he is not there to be on the end of the deliveries, if they were being swung in.
The return he is providing(Goals) for his ransom “wage control” busting reward is not good enough.Two league goals this campaign as we all are aware.
Frank Lampard as an example scored a similar amount of goals from midfield for Chelsea in the three seasons prior to Ronney’s one and only one “Stellar” season scoring 26 in the League and 34 in all.
He needs to get to this level and fast to reward the faith and the risk Sir Alex has taken with him to blemish his legacy at United.
I see him very much like a Girl you loved that has screwed behind your back,you dont want to be childish and totally ignore them, you just want them to get back to themselves and restore their Virginity to you.Or just go away.
Sir Alex i am sure will steer us through this, well one hopes.
tbf I’ve been saying rooneys not the player he shouldvve become for about five yeaars, ask anyone, its fergies thought, left and right wing shite, making him play loine striker when he’s only 18, using him to manmark etoo or fucking shite porto leftbacks, the embarrassing cup final against chelsea, the constant ignoring of any injury he gets and then trying to justify it because ‘he always wants to play’ ffs
fault not thought
I sometimes fear Fergie will do to him what he did to Van Nistelrooy, use him, abuse him, then when burnt out, lose him.
he’s been doing it from the start, at everton he was behind kevin campbell and radzinski an only played the big games, then he went and was unbelievable at the euros, then he broke his foot, then without a break he ent and fergie played him in every fucking game in his first year, and the whole second half of it up on his own with ruud on the fucking bench so he could play his bastard son alongside keane and scholes
Remember it well Noblet. Ruud was mint.
Woops – accidentally put my name on this piece. It’s Jay Shon’s.
Who’s a naughty boy! 🙂
Good read Jay Shon
Spoon go fook yaself…or ya toyboy
At least we don’t have Wenger. Leave it at that.
In a word No. I have the feeling the lad is about to explode second half of the season and i cant agree that he has been ruined by Fergie in the slightest. Sir Alex has done everything he can to protect him and allow him to become the player he is today.
i feel the guy is desperetly trying to regain the form but
the domestic mistrust has affected him big way.he will never reach
that form he showed last year whatever is done.its fergie trying to
lift him up in justification of the big salary he is getting and
which has now exposed fergie to the wrath of the other great
players like vidic,rio,evra,nani etc.how do you justify that salary
for a guy not doing what he is supposed to do,score goals?the best
thing would have to let him go and not being armtwisted into
accepting his demands and deliver nothing.
thank fuck….i was going to give you a right slagging for his work
Totally agree tht fergie has ruined him. Every season Rooney’s role in the team has been different. I also think Roo is overrated just like every other english player and after holding utd for ransom i wld delighted to see him shipped out in the summer. In berba, chicharito, welbeck and macheda we have fab strikers anyway. All we need is to invest in a couple of central midfielders n we shld be fine.
It is because of Fergie that Rooney is such an iconic player today.
Fergie must be considering himself very lucky to have a player of Rooney’s calibre in the squad who is always willing to play in any position and do a good job.
There are not many players like that in the current squad.
fergies done nothing for rooney, this aint like giggs, rooney was a superstar before he came to utd
he’s abused rooneys willingness to take one for the team,I was gutted watching that game in porto, while ron has a free role and scores a 40 yarder rooneys playing right wing with the job of man marking their attacking left back, its not right
Maybe weve seen the best of Rooney,the lad is not the player he was, and Im a Rooney fan, them Wimin certainly messed with his head,maybe next season for Rooney to shine, I hope Im wrong.
Rooney isn’t ruined ffs Torres is
That’s the bigger story here. He’s shit
All this ‘he doesn’t go any service at Liverpool – he’s in a shit team’ is true, but he was shit in the greatest ever Spanish side at the World Cup n all
The tranny cunt has done it to himself
Do keep up laddy! Macheda’s already been shipped out. Wellbeck won’t ever put the shirt on again, so where does letting our best player go leave us?