Welcome!

FM Base has been serving the Football Manager community for nearly two decades and we're keen to ensure that we are here for two decades more.

Become a part of our community today, and you'll quickly realise that the Football Manager community is the best community.

Register

Jonathan Wilson: Man United's Rooney rediscovering his form despite a lack of goals

Jonathan Wilson's Articles (Bot)
Joined
Aug 1, 2010
Messages
695
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Wayne Rooney didn't score on Saturday. He did help set up three of Manchester United's five goals against Birmingham City and generally looked as though he may at last be approaching his best, but he didn't net himself. So a sub-plot in most of the reviews of the game was the fact that Rooney failed to score, and that he has managed just one goal from open play for his club since March. He is in a "goal-drought," and no matter what he does between now and scoring half a dozen goals, that will always be the first thing that is mentioned about him after games.

The obsession with who scores goals is mystifying. The idea that attackers attack, defenders defend and midfielders do a bit of each was outdated a century ago, and yet it weirdly persists; soccer, as the great Russian Boris Arkadiev was preaching the thirties, is a combination game, devoid of discrete roles. Last season Rooney scored 25 league goals, more than he had scored in the previous two seasons combined. United won only the Carling Cup. In each of the two previous years, United won the league and reached the Champions League final, winning one of them. Yet it was the third season, most seem to think, in which Rooney found his best form. It was common at this time last year to read paeans talking about how he'd emerged from the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo to occupy his true position. Yet that emergence was probably at least in part behind England's poor showing at the World Cup.
In 2007-08, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 league goals, and was eulogized as Rooney was last season. To score than many goals is, of course, a startling achievement, but that season United picked up 2.38 point per Premier League game Ronaldo started. When Tevez started it picked up 2.44; when Rooney started it picked up 2.52. That's one measure, and it's fairly crude, but it does at least give an indication that goals aren't everything.

It seems hard to believe now, but last May Rooney lifted both the Footballers' and the Football Writers' Player of the Year awards. By the time he had collected the trophies, though, he had suffered the ankle injury against Bayern Munich that precipitated his downward spiral. His form disintegrated, reaching a nadir in the World Cup. He was probably not fully fit in South Africa and, it now seems likely, he was distracted by the knowledge that tabloid revelations about his private life were imminent.

But there was also a tactical aspect: at United he had begun playing as a lone striker, working defenders and playing with his back to goal, focusing on taking chances rather than creating them. With England, in World Cup qualifying, he had played behind Emile Heskey, looking to link midfield and attack, his natural leftward drift creating a highly effective interchange with Steven Gerrard as he cut in from that flank. World Cup qualifying, though, ended in November; Rooney had seven months operating in a wholly different role before playing another competitive game for his country.
Perhaps because personal pressures were including his mind, he was unable to readjust, and ended up playing too close to Heskey, with the result that a huge gap appeared between attack and midfield, which in turn led Gerrard -- and to an extent Aaron Lennon -- to drift off their flanks to try to plug it, in turn denying England width. All fluency, of course, disappeared, and England -- yet again -- became far too direct. It's much easier, though, to blame the usual scapegoats -- the manager, Heskey and a player's lack of focus/passion/pride -- than to accept that a player scoring hatfuls of goals may not be ideal.

Since the summer, of course, the revelations have played out and Rooney has submitted and withdrawn a transfer request. That remains an odd episode, brought about by the influence of agents, greed and uncertainty over the club's future under the ownership of the Glazer family, but it surely also spoke of a deeply unhappy player, lashing out almost indiscriminately at those around him. Sir Alex Ferguson is a supreme manager of such situations, and his decision to send Rooney to Portland to train alone looks a masterstroke. Persuaded he was still loved by the club, he was able to refocus away from the distractions of Britain, and has returned re-energized and refocused.

There were signs against Tottenham a week gone Sunday that he was back and, while Birmingham was an accommodating opponent on Saturday, it was possible against to see Rooney re-emerging as one of the world's elite. His assist for Dimitar Berbatov's second goal was unspectacular, but still required the sort of awareness and precision of execution of which Rooney looked incapable in South Africa. It was in the build-up to United's third goal, though, that Rooney again looked a special player, showing invention and confidence to backheel a pass to Berbatov, taking the return, and then driving a perfect ball across the box for Ryan Giggs to slam in.

The fourth came from a long clearance from Edwin van der Sar, Rooney killing the ball as it dropped from considerable height, advancing on the left and playing in Giggs for Berbatov to complete his hat-trick. Given the heaviness of his touch in South Africa, that deftness of control was remarkable, indicative of his confidence and relaxed state of mind

Between United's third and fourth goals, though, came a sign that all is still not quite right, as Rooney moved on to a Nani cross and, from no more than three yards, allowed the ball to slide off the side of his head and wide. His reaction wasn't the fury that might have been expected, but a grin. He knew it didn't really matter. He knows his form is returning and, more than that, he knows he doesn't need the easy validation of goals. They will come; far more important is that his touch and vision are back, and that he is linking well with his team-mates. Rooney is playing well again, and alongside that football's crudest statistic simply doesn't matter.


Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jonathan_wilson/01/25/rooney/index.html#ixzz1C65QSG7W
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
8,166
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Yeah he played really well tonight...
He was stunning against Birmingham, just lacking a goal. But you can rarely expect someone to be scoring a hat-trick and be leaving much else for his strike partner.

- Has Torres been a bad player for the past few months then? Look at your own players before you criticise another team's. Hypocrisy is awesome.
 
Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 15, 2009
Messages
31,888
Reaction score
31
Points
48
Yeah out of form, but i reckon soon he might well go on a good scoring spree, what you think?
not interested in any scoring spree, but more what he does for the rest of the side. berboatov is playing out of his skin alongside rooney, our 4-4-2 outmuscles most 3 man mids becuase he works so hard, if the goals come then thats an added bonus, but give me rooney the creator each and every time
 
Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 15, 2009
Messages
31,888
Reaction score
31
Points
48
Yeah out of form, but i reckon soon he might well go on a good scoring spree, what you think?
not interested in any scoring spree, but more what he does for the rest of the side. berboatov is playing out of his skin alongside rooney, our 4-4-2 outmuscles most 3 man mids becuase he works so hard, if the goals come then thats an added bonus, but give me rooney the creator each and every time
 
Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
8,166
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Yeah out of form, but i reckon soon he might well go on a good scoring spree, what you think?
Probably, yes. How can you say that about Torres and then criticise Rooney though? Goals are goals, he was instrumental in three against Birmingham. I will say Rooney may well go on and hit some form, too.

---------- Post added at 05:45 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:43 AM ----------

Yeah out of form, but i reckon soon he might well go on a good scoring spree, what you think?
Probably, yes. How can you say that about Torres and then criticise Rooney though? Goals are goals, he was instrumental in three against Birmingham. I will say Rooney may well go on and hit some form, too.

Interesting read.
 
Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2010
Messages
44
Reaction score
0
Points
6
Good post. Im usually critical but you deserve my rare props. a few points,fm has taught me about player positions. had countless arguments about rooneys position. i never believed he was an out and out strikeman, he serves as more of a link between midfield and attack, in a strange way, like sneijder. you cant put positions to these kind of players. i still believe he is missing some sitters and can improve. torres however has been very dissapointing this season and probably imo, hodgson was abit scared to give him the kick up the backside he needs.
 
Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2005
Messages
10,882
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Another good read by JW, once again I think he is bang on the money.

I have always said that Man United rushed Rooney back; perhaps it was his own doing too? He has that sort of attitude that suggests he would rather return ASAP, than sit out the extra few weeks. It was very strange how he was supposed to be out for months and then a week later he returns?

With that and the media pressure, he has been distracted & now everyone expects too much of him, highlighting every fault or missed shot/pass in a game.

I never thought of him as a natural goal scorer until last season, where from August-March? He was banging them in on all fronts.

Am I the only one that thinks a move away from Man United and perhaps England might have been the right thing to do?
 

Max

Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2009
Messages
10,058
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Problem is people now are looking at him and seeing an out and out goalscorer because of last season, which is what he really isn't. He has improved some aspects of his game, like his heading, and also his versatility, but he's not a 20 goal a season striker and never has been before last season.

Great player but there's way too much hype and expectancy around him in England.

Oh and agree with Kris, a move abroad may of helped him get back on track more.
 
Top