As Manchester United slumped to a defeat in Holland at the hands of Feyenoord, the knives were out for players such as Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. One player who was saved from this embarrassment was Wayne Rooney, not because he starred in the game, but he was left out of the squad.
The English attacker did not travel for this Europa League clash and it did seem to make sense. Rooney has not been at his best for a while now and playing him in a fixture that is not a priority was the right decision by Jose Mourinho. The problem is Rooney wasn’t all that great in the Manchester derby either and the Manchester United captain will possibly feature in the game against Watford.
The 30-year-old striker does have a couple of assists in the Premier League but that only masks the issues of playing him in the side. Rooney was a dynamic attacker early on in his career but as the years have gone by; the former Everton man has lost his pace and seems to be a bit of a misfit when playing as the striker.
Seeing this transpire, Louis van Gaal did the unthinkable and started playing Rooney in midfield which was met by scorn from many United supporters and pundits. Many stated that the service was just not there for the Englishman last season and his positioning in the midfield cut out his threat.
That was a valid point; after all, Rooney had played as a striker all throughout his career (barring a number of games where he played on the right under Sir Alex Ferguson). But the fact remained as he was not providing much to his side and even if he was pushed up into the attack, he didn’t always finish moves off.
Rooney’s numbers in the goal scoring department have also drastically fallen over the years. From scoring 34 goals in the 2011-12 season, he has only managed a highest of 19 which came in the 2013-14 season ever since.
Even last season, Rooney only popped up with 15 goals from 41 games and only 8 of those came in the Premier League. Agreed, he was not played in his natural position but Rooney wasn’t all that great linking up with the other players.
Rooney’s lack of pace also makes him vulnerable to losing out possession rather cheaply in midfield. The Englishman currently gets dispossessed 2.3 times a game in the Premier League and that number could get higher should he continue playing in this role.
It does seem like all Manchester United managers are trying to shoehorn the player when the better thing would be to keep him on the bench for games and use him as an impact sub.
It isn’t that Wayne Rooney’s days are over, far from it, but there has to be an understanding when a player is struggling for form and does not provide a lot to his team over 90 minutes. Rooney is a too big name to be completely left out of the Manchester United side but Jose Mourinho can at least take the big decision and drop him from the starting XI.