Five Reasons Why: Wayne Rooney is not the big game player he used to be

Many have already accepted, some will with the time; Wayne Rooney isn’t the player he used to be. Sloppy at passes, can’t move as usual upfront and he doesn’t seem to have the same hunger to score goals anymore, despite scoring within a week. The media and the fans thought that it was positive for United to get him back, but considering how he has been playing, besides the goals, there’s nothing left to be thankful for that return though.

Goals are important, I know but he didn’t create many chances or to be more clear he didn’t even touch the ball that much to say that he created a number of chances and it’s not him to blame in the end of the day. He may be our leading goalscorer or be an important part of our history, but we should probably move on. The last two games he featured, there were sparkles at the moments he scored, but other than that, it doesn’t seem that much more left. Personally, I even went that far and thought that Scott McTominay, the youngster who was involved with the first team for the first time in a game, would definitely play better than him in the exact position. That may be harsh but in a moment where we needed to score, Rooney didn’t do the job and that is probably why we didn’t see the usual work rate from Marcus Rashford, even though he still cannot take the pressure all by himself, definitely not fair, but that’s a different story.

Getting back to Rooney, I decided to go on him in this week’s column because of a simple reason: how wrong I was last summer when I thought that he deserved another chance and there’s still something left on him. Probably it’s time to say goodbye to him, but first, let’s discuss the five reasons why Wayne Rooney isn’t the game player he used to be:

It’s been years since he has produced anything good for this team

This state has been going like this for years and it isn’t just something that has been in the past season. Rooney has continued to play regular football under Louis van Gaal because of the ridiculous rule that his captain would always play. Even in those times, it seemed that he wasn’t producing something good as he would always be in Robin van Persie’s shadow. Continuing with this, I would even say that in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season just wouldn’t good enough and as proven by the best manager we have ever had, Rooney wasn’t capable of being the man who could take us to win the title. It turned out he was right, Van Persie led United to glory and the Dutchman’s problems the following year proved that Rooney wasn’t that crucial player who could make any difference.

Probably the fact that he had been in this club for many years, helped him stay longer and get the wages he wanted, not just that though, being appointed team captain to lead the team, however, we never saw the real Rooney making us the team we once used to be. It’s not that I blame him for some issues, but he should have taken care better of some things going off the pitch.

His work rate is beyond terrible 

Rooney in his glory days would score amazing goals, a reminder of that is the beautiful goal he scored against Manchester City with the perfect Nani cross. Now, he moves around the football pitch doing absolutely nothing, not being harsh but not even stats can defend him any longer. Rooney touched the ball only three times in Swansea City’s area showing the lack of influence he had and even Mkhitaryan who came in for the English did better than the Englishman. He had the most important job on the pitch against the Welsh side, being the link between the midfield and the attack, however, Marcus Rashford was never served right from Rooney and at least create a dangerous chance against Fabianski.

Do we even know where to play Rooney to get the best out of him?

In all fairness that’s something Jose Mourinho must think of, but we as fans have our own opinions related to the best positions a player must play, but with Rooney this is impossible. We all blamed Louis van Gaal for dropping him in the midfield and we all agreed with Mourinho, who said that under him, Rooney will never play as a number six. Mourinho tried to play Rooney on the right in September’s Manchester derby and he did very well in the second half, but other than that game, it didn’t simply work.

Then it’s the number ten position the right place that I thought that Rooney would try to adapt his game and considering that he had usually helped Ronaldo scoring, it all seemed perfectly planned and he would be the main link between the midfield duo, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba and attack. Did that work? Well, take as an example the last game against Swansea; that seemed absolutely horrible. Maybe it was time to move him up front as the main striker but as I mentioned above he is sloppy and definitely wouldn’t do anything better since he hasn’t proven to be better than Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial.

The Englishman isn’t young anymore and has suffered a few injuries 

Unlike Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he doesn’t get better with time and United at the time need all the help they can from their most experienced players and on the other side, need them to be at their best. Rooney just got back from an injury that kept him out for almost a month and this has accompanied him over the past years and when needed most, he hasn’t produced.

Rooney will soon turn 32 and he is young compared to Zlatan but he doesn’t have the factor of being key in big matches. He is being replaced everywhere. At England, Southgate would rather start Harry Kane upfront or Sterling in the wings than play Rooney who has proven to not deliver in big moments. As for United, he is second choice to Zlatan who is now injured, but Mourinho is giving the Swede’s place to a 20 years old. As for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, we have noticed that his movement in the wide areas is much better than Rooney’s and he can work and adapt better than him.

His behaviour off the pitch hasn’t changed much, has it?

The news of him being out until late came out like two or three days ago and this may have nothing related to football, his behaviour hasn’t changed much and this may have affected his preparations for several games. In a time where the annual dinner for the awards has been postponed due to the busy schedule, Wayne Rooney just had it really necessary to stay out until 3 am ahead of an important game that is the Manchester Derby.

The players have the right to go out and have fun, but when one is playing for Manchester United must be responsible for what he does both on and off the pitch as it affects the whole team. Why would any other player actually care to behave when the one who is supposed to set the example doesn’t even care? I am not asking him to be as devoted as Ander Herrera that always seems he is getting into a major fight, the last of his life, but he should at least show some interest.

This may be harsh but Wayne Rooney needs a wind of change or at least needs to turn his head in the right place for this month where our Champions League spot for next season’s campaign is in danger. Wayne Rooney may not be the player he used to be, but there’s got to be something left in him that would make Rooney the hero, just like in old times.

Written by Fabiola Cejku


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