Date: 28th December 2010 at 10:00am
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As the dust settles after a convincing win against Sunderland and we prepare for Birmingham, a lot of talk has been about Rooney’s ‘goal drought’. He has now gone 9 months without scoring from open play for Man United (he has only scored 2 penalties this season).

As most people would know, Rooney is very much a confidence player and has never managed to be a consistent goal scorer. Last season, which was an exception to the rule, he was banging them in fairly regularly but before then, he had always scored goals in bursts of good form. United fans were never too worried, given we had a goal machine in the form of Ronaldo. When the Portuguese left, the doubts were louder and more widespread. Rooney kept his head down and dragged United through the season, having the highest scoring season of his career. But by the time he scored his last goal against Bayern Munich, he was tired, unfit and looked very prone to injury. He then had an anonymous and frustrating World Cup where Super Rooney was meant to win all matches single-handedly! He was, to be fair, quite poor and continued to be poor in front of goal as we neared the October revelation of his desire to leave United in the summer (which seemed to explain the dip in form). Having made a U-turn and come back in the team, he is now under pressure to score goals for fun again.

Sir Alex says that strikers need to score goals to feel happy. When they are not scoring, they feel like they will never score, but when they do, they think the scoring will never end. If confidence is a problem for Rooney, then it hasn’t seemed so in the matches he has played since he came back from injury. If there is one thing Rooney is consistent at, it’s industry and creativity. A lot of his work on the pitch tends to get ignored as pundits and fans value goals more than anything else. It is true that strikers are paid to score goals, not to make Hollywood passes, but Rooney does more than attempt Hollywood passes (which by the way, come off more times than they do for Stevie Gerrard, who is a midfielder).

Rooney does more than his fair share of tackling but he is now doing it more often up front rather than running back to our own penalty area to tackle. His range of passing is also often not lauded enough. Some have suggested that he would be the best replacement for Scholes, and the idea is not that crazy! On top of everything, he has a creative mind on the pitch and is a very intelligent player despite his resemblance to Shrek.

All of the above are just arguments for us valuing Rooney more than just his goals. When Rooney scores, he is as close to being a complete footballer as possible. But if he is not scoring and we are winning and doing well in all competitions, we have nothing to worry about as long as he continues performing as he currently is. The assist for Berbatov’s first goal yesterday was testimony to what Rooney can do on a pitch when he is in inspiring form. The goals will come, but for now, we should be happy with him pulling the strings in attack while others around him like Berbatov and Nani share the burden of scoring.

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6 responses to “Rooney fears allayed as plan B is just as fruitful as plan A”

  1. R.E.D says:

    Whilst this may be true I would like the goals but I guess I should be grateful he looks and is playing like he is interested again.

  2. Jamie Allen says:

    like you say, strikers get judged on scoring goals. When Berbatov had a drought and didnt score enough, but was creating goal after goal, he was criticised. Rooney will only get the credit he should be getting for his creativeness when he starts banging them in again. A shame but that’s football and the press!

  3. exon says:

    Man, God Bless you for this article; because I was starting to feel uncomfortable with myself with all those crazy ideas assaulting me. Since his return from injury and especially in the last month; it has been obvious in the most spectacular way to me: Wayne Rooney is a world class transition player/attacking midfielder disguised as a defense-aware striker.
    Where Gerrard has grinta and creativity; Rooney shows creativity and creativity + a infinitely reassuring presence on deffensive phases.

    Strange to say this but his goal drought makes it even more eloquent : Rooney is probably the best player in the world because he is at least twice the play maker Ronaldo and Messi (the actual “bests”) will ever be. His superiority will manifest even more when he starts scoring and, as you said, shows how complete a footballer he is.

  4. jonathan says:

    Good article Yashi. I’d agree that his versititliy is underated and there’s a lot of false assumptions and expectations on players simply because of the title of the position they play.

    For example, many decry our lack of an attacking midfielders, when in reality Rooney when playing alongside Berba is effectively playing in that position and doing all that would be expected of an attacking mid. Gerrard and Vandervaart are heralded as world class in that position, but are they doing any more passing and playmaking than Rooney when he plays along another striker?

    All that said, there are more numbers of great midfielders in the world than there are of great goal scorers. Rooney clearly has the latter talent as well and we’ll need him to bring that forth if we’re to achieve greatness.

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