With everything that went on at Manchester United this summer it was going to be hard to predict how their season would transpire. The change in manager is, and has been, huge but the return to the fold of Wayne Rooney has been their biggest success thus far. Over the last few weeks he has been imperious and looks back to his regal best at Old Trafford.
There are very few players in world football who are consistently at the top of their game. It is only the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who continually seem to perform at a level out of the reach of almost every other player on the planet. Rooney has always been a confidence player who would contribute massively for a period and then have a few quiet games.
However, after the dip in form last season and his continuing issues with Sir Alex Ferguson it was unsure what the future would hold. Happily for the club though, the new manager, David Moyes appears to have cheered him up somewhat and his form of late has been nothing short of outstanding.
His goals on Sunday against Tottenham took his record this season to a quite phenomenal 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 games. When you look at the fact that United have only scored 22 goals thus far means he has only failed to contribute to two of their goals in the Premier League this season.
One of the main bones of contention for Rooney was that he was being played too deep and ,since Robin van Persie’s introduction, was seldom picked as a striker. He clearly felt marginalised and did not want to have to play wide ride or in the number 10 role. Unfortunately for Rooney he has excelled in these positions too throughout his career and with van Persie scoring vital goals he had to play deeper.
This season has seen van Persie, possibly worryingly for United, picking up continual injuries. Not only has this freed up Rooney to play as a striker but has also allowed Shinji Kagawa to play centrally behind the striker. With Kagawa’s eye for a quick pass and Rooney’s intelligent movement it has the making of a very fruitful partnership.
One of the most noticeable aspects of Rooney when he is at his best is his cross field pass from the left to the right touchline. He played three such passes during the game on Sunday and all of them landed perfectly on Antonio Valencia’s instep. Over the years Old Trafford has witnessed many a great passer but there is something quite unique about the way Rooney hits it.
Perhaps Ferguson’s retirement has given him a new lease of life. Perhaps he is looking at this post-Ferguson era and realising that success maybe harder to come by. Perhaps he is just maturing as he approaches 30. There are so many varied explanations for his return in form. One thing is certain though; Rooney is back and will be hugely influential for the remainder of Manchester United’s season.
(Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)