In recent comments to the Daily Mail, Gary Neville said that Wayne Rooney needs to adapt his game in order to continue performing strongly at the top-level.

Rooney is now being shifted into the number 10 role just behind the main striker, with Hodgson deciding that this is his best position. But surely this is nothing new and something we have known for years?

The 26-year-old has never been a traditional out-and-out striker; and is a player who thrives on having the ball at his feet, finding that killer pass or gap in the defence.

It is quite obvious that when Rooney plays up top, especially on his own, he can become frustrated if there is a lack of service and he receives little of the ball.

He is a player who has always wanted to instigate attacks himself and does not want to rely on others, something which we have seen ever since his debut goal against Everton ten years ago.

At just 16-years-old, the intelligence of Rooney’s footballing brain was clear to see; as he spotted the gap at David Seaman’s near post and lashed home a spectacular drive. It was certainly not your typical poacher’s finish.

The call for Rooney needing to adapt is a muted point for a player approaching the peak years of careers, especially when drawing comparisons to the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

I see Neville’s point in both players adapting to extend their careers, but Rooney is at the age where he needs to rise to the challenge and enhance the qualities he already has, not change the way he plays.

The player now seems to be reinvigorated after suffering a gash in the match against Fulham; and rose to the challenge when captaining England in the 5-0 victory over San Marino on Friday.

He linked up well with his Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck, leading the line by example and scoring two goals.

It seems that Rooney is now showing a greater degree of maturity in his game and is striving to perform consistently for both club and country; something which has let him down in the past.

He would score goals in gluts for United, before a niggling injury would rule him out for a period and the player would struggle to rediscover his form. But this could have been to do with the pressure that came with being the club’s talisman; and being the man who United relied upon to score the goals.

He has also been hindered by playing out of position out on the left-hand side; and a player with less ability or worse attitude would have complained and thrown a strop, but not Rooney, even though his individual form would suffer as a consequence.

Although now, Rooney’s burden at club level has been eased by the signing of Van Persie; and he is seemingly happy to play behind the Dutchman and provide him the goal-scoring ammunition when needed.

Meanwhile for England, Rooney will thrive by playing behind the likes of Jermain Defoe or any pacy front man who will quickly latch on to a through ball. I also believe the Rooney/Welbeck combination could work if the 21-year-old improves his composure in front of goal.

Therefore, I see Neville’s point in Rooney needing to adapt to stay at the top-level, but he is not yet in the same age bracket as Scholes and Giggs; and should continue to concentrate on being deep-roaming support striker.

You can follow me on twitter @JamesHilsum

 

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