Jose Mourinho has, in the past two premier league games, relegated Wayne Rooney to the substitutes bench. Wayne Rooney, a player just 4 goals shy of eclipsing Sir Bobby Charlton as Manchester United’s top goal scorer, the current club captain and one of the highest paid players in the English Premier League, finds himself in quite a predicament.
Mourinho’s decision is not without reason. A large segment of the Manchester United faithful, me included, have shared, for some time, the opinion that Rooney’s performances have been way below par. His stats do not tell the whole tale but it is dismal reading when you notice that his most notable contribution in recent years was in the 2013-14 season where he scored 17 goals and provided 10 assists. For a player raking in over 250,000 pounds a week, the expectations are huge.
Bursting onto the scene at Everton at the age of 16, he caught the eye of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson who persuaded the Manchester United board to sanction a 30 million pound transfer for then 18-year old Rooney. Since then he has been a regular in the United first team, with him usually being the driving force of the attack aided ably over the years by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov and Robin Van Persie. Even though he lacked the pure skill on the ball that the aforementioned players possessed, what made him one of the most feared opponents was not only his goal scoring instinct and intelligence on the ball, but also his tenacity and willingness to track back and help out his defense. Also, his keen sense of a pass and ability to get the crowd going has proved invaluable over the years.
That tenacity and perseverance seem to have dissipated in recent years. Rooney, who turns 31 in few days, needs to find that hunger and passion that drove him on in games where it appeared he wasn’t having a good game. I for one would love it if Rooney can somehow rediscover his form from a few years back. If not, it remains to be seen what Mourinho will do in the coming transfer window.
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