0 shots on target, 0/7 successful tackles, 19% cross accuracy from 16 attempts...
Once regarded as the spirit of the mighty Red Devils of Manchester, Wayne Rooney’s form in recent years has left a lot to be desired.
After scoring an outstanding 64 goals in 94 appearances between 2009 and 2012, Rooney has been on an ever-steady decline, posting 37 goals in 88 appearances.
Albeit those statistics warrant a level of consideration as a mediocre striker, Rooney is expected to be anything but. Once hailed as the upcoming golden boy of English football Rooney is now 30 years old.
One thing no champion has ever been able to beat is Father Time and Rooney is no different. It’s evident that Rooney’s abilities are declining with age. How long will this be allowed to continue before Rooney’s legacy becomes tarnished with a slate of poor performances?
On 26 August 2015 Rooney ended an 878-minute scoreless streak with a hat trick against Club Brugge. This was an unexpected absence from the score sheet for a once perennial marksman.
At what point does Rooney, or united for that matter bite the bullet and bench the underperforming star? We saw a similar story unfold across town with Pep Guardiola’s arrival at Manchester City. Guardiola didn’t waste any time in benching 10-year veteran Joe Hart before quickly selling him in his first transfer market in charge.
Manchester United’s manager Jose Mourinho shares similar qualities in doing what he wants to do, when he wants to do it and doesn’t care who thinks otherwise. Mourinho has benched big name players in the past, notably Kevin de Bruyne, Juan Mata and Samir Nasri to name a couple.
Rooney’s performance in the derby was marred with a duel against City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Bravo took a heavy touch causing both he and Rooney to collide in the box. No foul was given much to the dismay of Mourinho, Rooney and Red Devils fans alike. Rooney held a grudge over the challenge ensuring he returned the favour in the next play between the two going for a clearly ill timed tackle that resembled a Joey Barton red mist special. Rooney was yellow carded accordingly in the 83rd minute.
It was a worrying sign that youngster Marcus Rashford outplayed Rooney even though the Rashford only got onto the field at half time. With this in mind, is it fair to say that Rooney continued commonplace presence in United’s starting line-up is harming the club by keeping young potential such as Martial and Rashford on the bench? Rooney still has the ability to be an effective player although nowhere near as consistently as he once was. Manchester United should be wary of repeating a comical error in handling young talent such as was seen with Paul Pogba leaving for Juventus in 2012. After raising the young stud, Pogba and United fell out of love leading to the midfielder’s defection to the Turin giants. Fast-forward 4 years and we’ve seen United spend AUD$157,136,418.04. That is an exorbitant amount of money for a player, let alone a player that United had developed, blooded and couldn’t provide regular first team football for.
There may be long standing consequences if United fail to use Rooney correctly in the coming season. He remains a Manchester United Legend, but needs to acknowledge that his best days are behind him. If the sub par performances continue Mourinho will not hesitate to replace Rooney with the plethora of attacking weapons at his disposal.
Written by Nik Hatzi