Date: 2nd February 2011 at 6:00pm
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Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years

You could almost hear LL Cool J saying the words as Wayne Rooney slammed the first of his two goals past Brad Friedel last night. So much had been made of his inability to find the back of the net in recent times, add to this how well both Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov have been playing and Rooney’s situation looked even more bleak. His position in the team was questioned and be a dim witted few, his actual career was doubted.

Rooney had been playing well, laying on goals for other displaying the kind of vision and ability to execute passes that would have had you thinking he was one of the world’s finest creative midfielders rather than strikers. He worked tirelessly up and down the pitch and you were likely to see him filling in in a number of positions as well as in the opponent’s box trying to harass the keeper but that’s not what we wanted from him.

Tell a lie, we would all love a player that works as tireless as he does. Against Blackpool I remember especially him getting back to cover at left back and making an important interception but Rooney is a striker and we love our strikers to score goals. Van Nistelrooy, Law even Berbatov this season, nothing captures the imagination of United fans like a goal scorer and that’s why such a huge thing was made of the fact that he was finding it so hard to find the back of the net.

Last season when he was scoring freely but not helping the team as much it was all good but a dry spell (albeit an extended one) and some off field matters had people doubting him. I had a friend tell me he had lost it completely and that he isn’t a top player because no top player goes that long without scoring but to seriously write him off as a player at 25 years old was and is ridiculous.

At times he has looked off the pace (the miss against Birmingham was especially bad and his performance against Blackpool wasn’t one of his finest) but realistically he was always going to get stick if he didn’t manage to live up to his goal scoring feats of last season. Of course going from 34 to a current tally of 5 will lead to more of a noise being made but it shouldn’t lead to people doubting him as a striker especially with the extenuating circumstances.

Now he appears to be back on the goal trail, United’s doubters are firmly backing our title challenge. Tony Cascarino who appeared to be soiling himself at the prospect of a Drogba/Torres strike force has come out saying with Rooney firing United are untouchable:

“That was the revival of Wayne Rooney, seeing Rooney back on form is going to worry the whole of the league… the funny thing is that shivers will be sent down the spine because United have managed to go unbeaten without him playing a large part. If he starts (to score), as I expect he will, everyone is going to play second fiddle to Manchester United.”

The only problem is Rooney never went anywhere. To say we have gone unbeaten ‘without him’ smacks of idiocy and someone that hasn’t been watching United play. Scoring or not he has and will be an integral part of our title push, it is just that with the goals he becomes all the more dangerous. I’m not as naive as to think Rooney will suddenly end up with 20 at the end of the season, we have seen false dawns before but what these goals will do is give him some space to breath. With his detractors kept at bay he will be allowed to play his football freely without worrying if he is going to score and a more relaxed Rooney is likely to get more goals than a tense one.

With Berbatov firing, Hernandez a continual threat and Rooney apparently ready to chip in with his share of goals, United are as threatening as ever, so if he along with the rest of the team can keep it up the onus will be on the others to catch us because we will be flying.


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