Introducing Manchester United’s New £26m Midfielder
Sir Alex Ferguson missed out on the signing of Wesley Sneijder during the summer transfer window, deciding that Manchester United’s significant record transfer fee of £30.5 million needn’t be shattered for the sake of an established, attacking mid…
Sir Alex Ferguson missed out on the signing of Wesley Sneijder during the summer transfer window, deciding that Manchester United’s significant record transfer fee of £30.5 million needn’t be shattered for the sake of an established, attacking midfielder to replace the retired Paul Scholes. He did after all, have young midfielder’s such as Tom Cleverley progressing encouragingly in the team, and the lifeline – if all else fails – of the convenient January transfer window to look forward to.
However, just as has occurred before during his astonishingly successful 25 years with Manchester United, Sir Alex was confronted with a tricky problem. With Cleverley and Carrick out with injury, and Darren Fletcher also missing, United’s central midfield was desperately thin for the clubs Champions League group game against Otelul Galati. The solution? Wayne Rooney of course – who else?
Ferguson may not have signed a midfielder for over £30 million this summer, but seven summers ago, he paid Everton £25.6 million for the then 18 year-old English striker. 8 seasons, 335 games, 159 goals and an expensive but very effective hair transplant later, Rooney played an impressive and well rounded midfield role at Old Trafford, and one which he was happy to complete for the good of the team.
His passing was superb – both the range and the accuracy. He tracked back, just as he always has done, to help win the ball and begin attacks. He was calm and composed on the ball, finding a team mate with 88% of his 98 attempted passes throughout the game. It was in fact, statistically, one of the best midfield performance from a United central midfielder this season, which says a great deal about both the natural talents of Wayne Rooney and the current state of the United midfield.
Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed after the 2 – 0 win in which the second goal came about from a deflected Rooney shot, that his strikers new positioning was only a short term thing rather than a long term solution. Once Cleverley returns along with Carrick and Fletcher, and when Anderson finally decides to play consistently well rather than discouraging displays like his latest alongside Rooney, don’t expect the striker to be occupying the middle of the park rather than creating and scoring goals up front.
It was refreshing to see a player with the talents of Rooney display his versatility and depth in a completely different role to what he is used to, but the 26 year-old is apparently more adept in this position than you might have thought. After the win which moves United into top position in their Champions League group, he revealed his central midfield history:
“I played there a lot when I was younger and it’s something which means you get a lot of the ball and we had to defend at times as well tonight. The manager asked me to do it and I’m happy to do it. I’ve said before I feel I’m a good enough footballer to play anywhere on the pitch.”
“I’m not being big-headed, I feel I am capable of doing that and if the manager wants me to play there, I’ve no problem doing that.”
If only Rooney revealed that he has a twin brother who is a natural central midfield player. Two Rooney’s in the Manchester United side wouldn’t go amiss. Role on January.
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