It’s no secret that there has been growing discontent towards Wayne Rooney’s performances up front with many United fans suggesting that he becomes a midfielder, as the once prolific striker seems to have lost the pace and ability that made him one of the most feared strikers in world football.
Rooney’s best years as a striker may be behind him, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t begin a whole new chapter in the middle of the park.
It appears that LVG has only just realized Rooney’s midfield abilities as he fielded him as a midfielder against Everton In Last week’s FA Cup semi-final clash. Although it’s worth noting that Rooney played as a midfielder on many occasions last season.
Saying Rooney bossed the midfield against Everton would be a massive understatement as the Englishman was able to utilize his key abilities to aid and spearhead attacking moves for the Red Devils.
Rooney’s cleverness on and off the ball is second to none, and although he may be lacking the pace he once had, his football brain remains as sharp as ever.
The 30-year-old’s vast experience can be put to optimum use at the center of the pitch as his ability to pull the strings from midfield could give United the competitive edge they’ve lacked for so long.
Rooney in a number 10 role would be a lot similar to Toni Kroos and Cesc Fabregas in the way he goes about his business on the pitch as he would serve as a menace to the opposition while also being the main link between attack and defense.
But with Rooney playing an Advanced midfield role what happens to Juan Mata? Mata’s major shortcoming has always been the fact that he doesn’t work very hard to win the ball back as he just sits in and around his position rather than tracking back to help out in defense.
Rooney, on the other hand, has a lot to offer from a defensive point of view as he puts his best efforts to win the ball back as well as performing his defensive duties when required. This was best displayed in the game against Everton when he prevented Lukaku from putting one past De Gea in the early stages of the FA Cup tie.
United’s midfielders have been somewhat below par this season even though they’ve put in a few good performances here and there. One could notice that United play a lot of sideway passes in the build-up to any attacking move which tends to slow down their progression into the opposition’s half of the pitch and when they get in and around the 18-yard-area they tend to concede possession due to a misplaced pass or a poorly executed one-two.
Rooney’s eye for a pass would wreak a lot of havoc for any team that United comes up against as it would give the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford something to latch on to rather than the striker having to muster up their own opportunities every time.
He would also instill the much needed dynamism required to get the ball up and down the pitch in quick succession rather than continuing the sideways passing play which has become almost synonymous with United this season.
From a prodigy to a legendary striker and now possibly even a midfield virtuoso, Wayne Rooney has had an illustrious career in Manchester United and the Premier League as a whole.
Despite his age, he still has a handful of years left in him, and he could play for even longer periods if he makes the complete transition into a midfield player for club and country.
But the beginning of Rooney’s career as a specialised midfield at United could mean the end of Juan Mata’s time at the club as he’ll be facing a direct competition with the Englishman for playing time.
It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out for the two players, but if the rumors of Jose Mourinho taking over from Van Gaal at the helm of affairs at the Old Trafford are true, then we already have a clear picture of who will be leading the midfield for United next term.