Wayne Rooney: Manchester United and England captain, all time leading goalscorer for England, the list of achievements go on. Though his choice in children’s names is not great, his ability and commitment to both club and country can never be questioned.
Yet this season the 30-year-old has often struggled for form, albeit he’s been in a team that plays boring football while not providing enough good chances for him to convert. This has seen him go on a few goal droughts, and led to United fans questioning his place in the team, both for club and country. But since the turn of the year he has scored in each game (bar Saturday’s result against Southampton). This makes me question, is Rooney back to his best?
Well the simple answer would be… no, not until change is carried out at Untied which can help Rooney more. He has looked frustrated with the burden of being captain, struggling to motivate not only himself but the team to score goals. When you consider that United went on a win-less run throughout December and part of November, it was his goals which could have saved them. Yet Louis van Gaal’s system doesn’t compliment him as a striker.
Rooney no longer has the talent of providers behind him. The good old days of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and co have gone. Even strike partners like Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez have been sold, leaving Rooney with the sole responsibility for scoring the goals. It has put a lot of pressure on him, alongside the armband.
In order for United and Rooney to get back to goal scoring ways, and perhaps score a first half goal, he needs a better strike partner. Rooney not only needs somebody to provide for him, but somebody to provide for. Anthony Martial is a good striker, but he’s still very young and learning. In order for the team to be successful, Rooney needs that strike partner to connect with, then United will be back to winning ways.
You already see this working for England, where he scored in five of England’s recent games. He benefits from having good wingers in Theo Walcott, Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley, as well as a strike partner in Harry Kane or Daniel Sturridge. It pays off, and if United wise up in this transfer window and buy players, then there is no reason that Rooney can’t be back to his best.
When Rooney is in form, United perform: highlighted through United not loosing in the last four games he has scored. If Van Gaal and Ed Woodward get their acts together, there is no reason why United and Rooney for that matter can’t end the season in the top four and possibly challenge for the FA Cup. All he needs to get back to his best is a strike partner: a consistent, goalscoring strike partner, whether that be Kane, Edinson Cavani or whomever, he just needs somebody who can compliment his game.
Until that point, United will struggle and if it isn’t sorted then Van Gaal will be kicked out. For Rooney, his spot in the Euro 2016 starting team is seriously at risk if he doesn’t start to consistently perform.