A couple of years ago four of us created a lunch club we call The 4 Reds. Our lunches can last all afternoon, and usually involve at least 4 bottles of red wine while discussing everything United. Two of the group were in touch this week, and both entered the Rooney debate.
One is of the opinion… ” Rooney is done, doesn’t contribute enough anymore, and his best position is as a defensive screening midfielder.” The other believes he still has things to offer: …… “at last we have found/nicked/overpaid for a front man who actually wants to be a front man. This does two things: gives the midfield players more options for a pass, and allows Rooney to use his energy and football nous properly. When he plays as a lone striker (as for England of late) he wastes so much effort trying to harass their back four players for absolutely no return.”
I’ve been a enthusiastic Rooney supporter and defender but I am getting to the point where I do believe his future at the club may not last beyond this season. The burst has gone. The touch is not as sure as it was. He can huff and puff but he can’t blow the door down anymore.
The United Rant blog has an excellent piece this week exploring whether Rooney should be dropped and replaced in the secondary striker role by Mata. The writer challenges Van Gaal to continue the team’s evolution by dropping his captain.
This evolution has made Rooney less relevant; Mata’s form and Martial’s explosive start to life at United dictate that Van Gaal should be brave and drop his captain. Yet, the manager’s words after United’s victory over Wolfsburg point towards Wayne staying in the team, unduly untouchable. Worse still, Van Gaal refused to give Mata the plaudits he deserved after a magnificent night.
I’m not quite there for dropping Rooney yet. If all players are fit I’d replace Memphis/Depay rather than Rooney, and play Young in the wide left position. However the current problems at fullback may mean Van Gaal postpones the decision. One thing is certain however, if Rooney continues to struggle there is no doubt Van Gaal will do something about it. Rooney will become the latest to potentially face Old Trafford’s exit door. There is no sentiment in football. Even when you are close to goal scoring records. Even when you have been a terrific servant.
And speaking of the exit door, try this in the pub. One of the 4 Reds added the players recently let go, pulled in a few more from the past 5 years and built two teams of ex-Reds currently plying their trade in the Premiere league.
The clear out as you say has been enormous, and I was reminded of it while watching WBA v Everton with five ex-Reds on view. Even Darren Gibson had a run out! You could easily field two PL teams from those who have left Old Trafford in the last few years, and that does not take into account those like Van Persie, Nani, Hernandez, Kagawa, Pogba across the channel. How about
–Howard; Bardsley, Shawcross, Evans, De Laet; Fletcher, Cleverley, Brady; Zaha, Djouff, Wellbeck
Foster/Lindegaard; Brown, Chester, Cathcart, O’Shea; Gibson, Drinkwater, Richardson; Obertan, Falcao, Campbell
Now for Arsenal on Sunday. You watch Rooney will have a blinder and make mugs of all of us.