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Is the midfield role right for Wayne Rooney?

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has been transformed into a central midfielder in a Paul Scholes style position, but could he be more useful in an attacking role? Former England international David Platt thinks so.

Rooney is currently playing for Roy Hodgson’s England in the central midfield role during the European Championship in France. England has played one match thus far, a 1-1 draw with Russia and Rooney was arguably England’s best player. Hodgson elected to substitute the England skipper for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, and England subsequently let in the equalizer at the death. Rooney played well and did not deserve to be pulled out of the match, and Platt thought that Rooney should play higher up and behind Harry Kane for England to beat Wales in the second match of the group stage.

Rooney can control a match brilliantly. The captain works hard to get back and make defensive plays inside his own box and still is able to ping balls across the pitch to his teammates. He is doing this for England, and he can do this for United. Rooney does not need to play up top in a higher role for United, but he might need to for England. There is a lot of criticism towards Rooney whenever he plays, whether or not he is sitting in the midfield or an attacking position.

The former Evertonian is a natural striker, but with age, comes experience and a slowed down game. Rooney has slowed his game down and is capable of being useful in the midfield role as he has already shown it. Rooney should play in the midfield for England and United because of his composure and experience. With the likes of Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford running up top, with Dele Alli aiding the creative aspect of the attack. With United, a creative midfielder could be useful with Rooney dropping into a deeper role as Rashford, Anthony Martial, and co. surge forward for the Red Devils.

United legend Bryan Robson argues that Rooney is best used in the midfield, even comparing him to Pirlo after his performance against Russia. Rooney has composure in the midfield and a calmness that was not seen in the 30-year-old during his early years as a professional player for club and country. As Rooney has aged, he has matured. With this maturity, Rooney has become captain of Manchester United and England, and now, he has a chance to make an impact from a different location on the pitch.

The ability for Rooney to change his role on the field shows just how versatile he is. Rooney has been known to launch magnificent balls 40 yards across the field to teammates at both United and with the England national team. Rooney is a natural leader and his dictation of the flow of the game is incredibly important to both England and United, but it still is strange that Hodgson pulled Rooney out of the game.

Rooney can make an impact anywhere on the field. In offense, Rooney can score goals, create space, and set up assists at a consistent rate. In defence, Rooney tracks back, makes difficult tackles, and never stops pushing to help the team. He is a natural leader and has been vital to every team he has played for, including his teenage years at Everton. After making an impact on world football in Euro 2004, Rooney now captains the England team in 12 years later as the Three Lions look to grab a trophy that the country is dying for. Rooney is a key part of the team, and playing him in a forward position is unnecessary, but Hodgson has the option.

The same can go for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. Rooney may play in the deeper role under the Portuguese manager, but Rooney can play behind the young striker Rashford, and support the United attack. The versatility of Rooney is wonderful, but the debate will always continue whether the 52-goal England skipper should play deeper than he has played before. For now, he suits the slower midfield role, but in a flick of a switch, the striker can become an attacking force that defenders do not want to confront.

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