Manchester United look on course to finish in the top four just as manager Louis van Gaal promised. They may even finish the season as high as second with only league leaders Chelsea too far out of reach.
Despite many difficulties these last seven months there is one player who has continually put in the necessary hard work and scored many important goals to keep United heading in the right direction; Red Devils captain Wayne Rooney.
Rooney will be celebrating 11 years at the club this summer and in over a decade of service the forward has seen the club reach the very top both domestically and in Europe – he has also experienced some lows.
Last season was definitely one to forget and after finishing seventh followed by the sacking of David Moyes, the club looked to be in dire straits. But Rooney stayed loyal (just) and was repaid with the captain’s armband. The 29-year-old was destined for the role. There are not many players who can be relied on to lead from the front every time they step foot on the pitch – but Wayne is that man.
Rooney opened up his account this season in United’s first game with a flashy bicycle kick. Unfortunately the Red Devils lost 2-1 to Swansea City but Rooney was already showing what he’d be capable of in the months to come.
Numerous injuries led van Gaal to experiment with his formations and line-ups meaning Rooney played deep in midfield where he is typically less effective. But as players have returned Rooney is back to his favoured centre forward role and is United’s top scorer having found the net 12 times.
A season away from the Champions League appears to have been the ideal time to allow LvG to introduce his philosophy and Rooney has adapted well. Rooney has taken his goal tally to 22 in all competitions and though United were knocked out of both cups prematurely, if they finish in the top four as looks likely then the season will have been a resounding success.
Rooney’s most recent goal came in United’s Premier League fixture against Aston Villa. Two goals from new signing Ander Herrera and a spectacular volley from the forward sealed a 3-1 win which elevated the club to third in the table.
And while he didn’t have as big an impact in his side’s demolition of rivals Man City – his influence on the pitch was easy to see. This is a fixture he knows all about and it showed.
In October Rooney will turn 30 so it is understandable that his form and influence on games will start to wane. Hopefully next season United can make a push for the title and be an important force in Europe once again. A player as dedicated as Rooney deserves to have his final few years spent at the top and United right now have both the manager and team to make that happen.