Wayne Rooney the Midfielder vs. Wayne Rooney the Forward
While fans of football will grow rather weary of the headlines over the days and months ahead, there is one rather important question that needs answering in the immediacy: What position will he play in the future?
He's made his name as a complete forward, moving through the gears over the course of his career to perfect every element of his game.
His awareness in the box is fantastic, his finishing skills the envy of many—Aston Villa know as well as any club how lethal he is, having scored more against them than any other club in the world.
It was the Carling Cup final in 2010 where Rooney added the final piece to his vast array of skills: a towering header to put his side into the lead against the claret and blue outfit only served to rubber-stamp his epic relationship with cross-master Antonio Valencia.
He was the main man, the one United fans knew they could look to for a goal.
But things changed in the summer of 2012 when Sir Alex Ferguson sanctioned the signing of Robin van Persie for £24 million.
The Dutchman was paraded and labelled a marquee signing. He was the man who could avenge the previous season's title woes.
You do wonder how that made Rooney feel.
They formed an amazing partnership from the word go, combining effortlessly and intelligently in a free-flowing 4-4-2 formation that allowed them freedom to roam. Both players thoroughly enjoyed dipping in and out of the forward line, taking the ball and sprinting forward and attacking with a different cast every time.
But Rooney's position in the side is far from set in stone. After a wonderful half-season destroying opponents alongside RvP, Fergie tried him out as a pure central midfielder.
It started with a little cameo in a midfield diamond against Newcastle United, but his most prominent appearance in the middle came very recently in a masterful display during the 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
But where does his future lie?
He shows all the necessary technical skills to play in midfield, be it in a box-to-box role or a playmaker's role. His positional inexperience is masked by the organisational skills of Michael Carrick, and he'll unleash some unbelievable passes if given time and space.
What is Rooney's future?
He's always naturally drifted deeper to receive the ball as a forward, and he was often accused of dropping too deep and "searching" for it rather than displaying patience.
Starting in a deeper role will naturally allow him to get his foot on the ball more, look up, pick passes or drive forward. His ability to shoot from distance and his love for a physical duel has led some to believe he's the obvious successor to Paul Scholes.
He is not yet a world-class midfielder, but that will come with a preseason of positional training. The continuous links to signing a new striker—namely Radamel Falcao—suggest Fergie wants more firepower despite the presence of four top predators on the squad list.
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