Headlines were made when Sir Alex Ferguson dropped Wayne Rooney for Manchester United’s second league game against Fulham last week. He was dropped in favour of new United player Van Persie. The move has sparked numerous reports about him getting close to the Old Trafford exit door.
Ferguson is understood to have been dismayed by Rooney’s performance against Everton over a week ago and made his decision to drop him during the week. Against Everton, Rooney often lost the ball when it was played to his feet. He was too slow to react to Everton’s pressure, and he forced passes that ended any chance of a quick counterattack. He didn’t create any chances for his teammates, and had only 2 tame shots on target.
Against Fulham, he lasted only 22 minutes before he got a rather nasty looking gash on his thigh due to Rodallega’s accidental stomp. The gash was so deep that it shocked even the surgeons, and he could now be out for up to 2 months.
With Rooney out of the picture for a significant period of time now, the media has been abuzz as to whether United would miss him at all.
Amongst the reasons why he wouldn’t be missed is that he hasn’t been in great form anyway, the fixture list is not congested at this point of the season and there’s even an international break coming. Furthermore, Ferguson has a plethora of attacking options right now, even with Berbatov close to leaving the club. Pushing the notion further, some have even said that Rooney is no longer an indispensable striker and that he is thought to have fallen out of love with the club. These are the various reasons pointing to rumours of him being sold in the January transfer window.
To be honest, the rumours are not without any basis. It is true he has not performed. He was one of the worse performers for United against Everton. In fact, I don’t remember Rooney having a poorer performance than the one he had against his former club.
In the world of football where everything changes in the blink of an eye, people can be really quick to judge. For the very reason that Rooney has been below par for only one game, he is labeled as not being the same player as he once was.
But we know Wayne Rooney. Albeit certain exceptions, this was the player who has been a consistent performer over the years. Let’s remind ourselves about his goal-scoring prowess over the years.
He was the second highest goal scorer twice in the last 3 seasons. Last season he scored 27 goals, only 3 behind Van Persie (table 1) and in the 2009/2010 season he scored 26 goals, 3 goals behind than top scorer Didier Drogba (table 3). He scored only 11 goals in the 2010/2011 season (table 2), but let’s not forget he was injured for a period of time, and there was that huge saga where he declared that he wanted to leave United which left Ferguson totally ‘dumbfounded’.
Looking at these numbers, one would bet against Rooney’s goal tally to reach at least double figures again this season. Granted, we might not see him reach the goal scoring heights of last season. But in all honesty, he doesn’t need to!
With Van Persie (top goal scorer with 30 goals last season and 3rd highest goal scorer in the 2010/2011 season with 18 goals), Welbeck (9 goals last season, with a more integral role in store this season) and Hernandez (13 goals in his first season and looking to put his second season syndrome behind him), he has more than enough alternatives to share the goal scoring burden with.
We should be aware by now that Rooney needs a run of games to reach top form. Even when he comes back from his injury, one would expect him to struggle, especially with the array of options available in attack. But we know Wayne Rooney. He will fight for his place. And to be honest, with his quality, I can’t see him falling behind the pecking order for too long.
Yes, he played terribly in one game. But even the best of players have their usual off days. In the worse case scenario, if he somehow does not perform consistently, let’s wait till the end of the season before we evaluate his contribution to the team and decide whether it would be worth selling him or not.
My bet would be that by the end of the season, selling him would totally be out of the equation.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.