Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a warm up to a rousing chant of “Shinji One, Gerrard Nil”. It’s not. I’m talking about Rooney. More specifically Rooney playing as a central midfielder. You see, all the things United fans have taken great pleasure in mocking Gerrard for, certainly in his later years, seem to apply to Rooney.
In Ander Herrera there’s a midfielder who can actually do all the magical little things that I remember a young Paul Scholes doing. Short, sharp, intelligent one touch passes that open up the pitch, which change the direction of attack in a way that’s slightly less obvious than taking a touch, looking at the wing, looking at the other wing, taking another heavy touch and then curling an unbelievably obvious cross field ball straight onto the head of the opposition full back.
Both Rodgers and Van Gaal clearly aren’t idiots. Rodgers may have a touch of the Brent about him and they’re both clearly stubborn, cut your nose off to spite your face kind of people at times (see Borini not getting a game ahead of Balotelli and Lambert despite being far more mobile). But they’re not idiots. And yet it’s obvious to anyone who watches football at all that if you can’t really run, you can’t really do short passes and you like to take a lot of extra, needless touches then maybe you shouldn’t be dictating the tempo in central midfield. Especially not when your main positive attributes are being pretty fucking good at sticking the ball in the back of the net.
At that point you probably should be running around near that end of the pitch. Near the net. Away from the creative gubbins that goes on behind you and makes the football pretty and quick.
Rooney won’t ever be the second coming of Scholes, but it would be a crying shame for him to become a poor man’s Steven Gerrard.
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