If there is one player on the lips of everybody after Saturday’s derby-day defeat, it’s Wayne Rooney, who once again looked uncomfortable in a deeper role.
It was a position he was supposed to come to terms with immediately under Mourinho, despite the former Chelsea manager suggesting he wasn’t going to feature in midfield upon his arrival.
But if his display against Manchester City was anything to go by, not many United fans are holding out hope for Rooney when it comes to a reinvented central-midfielder. He was poor against City.
And following his underwhelming performance against the Red Devils’ bitter City rivals, questions have been raised as to where he goes from here.
What exactly does Wayne Rooney’s future have in store?
Well, we’ve broken it down and it’s an extremely difficult question to answer for a variety of reasons. But looking at the game against City, it’s clear that Rooney isn’t a natural midfielder who is going to command the line for United.
We saw it out in the Euros and we’re beginning to see it in his performances at Old Trafford- he’s just not involved in the game enough from a deeper role to have an influence on proceedings. The Wayne Rooney we know is tenacious, hard-working and consistently involved with most of the good work either England or Manchester United are doing.
But against City he was struggling to shine, struggling to make the headlines. And we’re not talking about an inability to strike the ball from fifty yards or score unbelievable goals. He was struggling to do the basics right, things that most central-midfielders have in their game from an extremely young age. But why would Rooney have this at his disposal? He’s never played this role before.
It all points to a manager who wants to play a player who is adored and who, on his day, can be the best man on the pitch. But with competition so healthy up-front, the natural answer of moving Rooney into midfield just isn’t working.
Having the likes of Ibrahimovic, Rashford and Martial at your disposal is always going to make things tough for Rooney when it comes to competing for starting roles. But that’s what being at a top club is about – having that depth to replace one quality player with another. It’s what’s made Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid the best teams in the world in recent years.
For us, there is a slightly simpler answer when it comes to the future of Wayne Rooney. What’s that I hear you ask? Quite simply, it’s the former Everton youngster coming down onto the bench until he can displace one of his striking rivals.
Playing a player for the sake of it isn’t going to work- it’s a backwards mentality.
I admire United for trying it but it’s clear it hasn’t worked out. Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United future belongs in the forward line.
If he can’t break back in, then use your imagination. He’s probably going to have to look elsewhere.