Manchester United’s captain, Wayne Rooney, reportedly trained as the lone striker in the aftermath of United’s 3-1 loss against Watford, and rumours are stating that he could start there against Northampton before being dropped against Leicester City. Rooney, recently berated for his poor performances, could finally be dropped from the first team by Jose Mourinho, and it could be for good if all goes to plan.
Being completely honest, I don’t want to see Rooney play for United ever again. He’s become a complete excuse of a footballer, and any new football fans watching him now would be excused for thinking he’s not even one. Rooney is the type of player you’d expect to see playing for Hull City to make up the numbers- in fact, Sam Clucas, completely new to the Premier League, looks far better. I’m beginning to have doubts as to if he’d fit in the Northampton team.
He offers nothing tactically to United- both Watford goals were created from a huge gap that Rooney and Fellaini were unable to cover. Yes, Luke Shaw should’ve been the double-backup for them, and he is equally to blame in a team sport, but it wasn’t his tactical zone. Mourinho’s systems usually have a player behind the striker who is adept defensively as a box-to-box midfielder, like Oscar. It says enough that his system has shifted to accommodate Rooney, who has often played further forward than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, instead of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who positions himself similarly to the diminutive Brazilian.
Bizarre is one word to describe it, but it’s completely baffling at this point. Playing two in midfield against the 3-7 players in the middle of the pitch for Manchester City was a disgrace to any tactics ever deployed by this football club. Even if he was stuck in defensive midfield and told to swim when he was drowning, it still would’ve been better than trying to play pressing football with a double mismatch in midfield.
Against Feyenoord, the midfield was far better than it was in either of the other two games. Even with Paul Pogba off the boil and Morgan Schneiderlin’s first start, the former was able to make more of an impact and the latter was United’s best player. Yet, somehow, Rooney and Fellaini found their way back into the team and United got destroyed and completely torn apart by Valon Behrami and Etienne Capoue.
Rooney is representative of the lack of a tactical plan in Mourinho’s attack. The defence is being ripped apart because of the way attacking units expose the space between Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly, but in attack, whatever Mourinho is trying to do is unclear, because every other player is completely neutralized by Rooney in the mixer. Pogba can’t move forward because he knows United will get shredded defensively, and he finds himself in awkward areas. The wingers just can’t do anything because they aren’t receiving the ball in promising areas. Eventually, United ends up knocking the ball to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and hoping, because there’s no other option.
Long rant short, Rooney shouldn’t be in the side ever again. It’s the most frustrating aspect of United and England (national team) fandom, though I only pledge allegiance to the former. Watching Rooney against Watford, he didn’t even look like a player who used to be good, and that says a lot- mentally, technically and physically, he looked poor, which, barring the latter, isn’t supposed to happen.