Life After Rooney: Would Manchester United Continue to Excel Without Wayne?

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Life After Rooney:  Would Manchester United Continue to Excel Without Wayne?
Michael Regan/Getty Images

In case you hadn't heard, Wayne Rooney may potentially be leaving Manchester United this summer.

We're getting to the stage now where the whole affair is leaving a lot of football fans dazed and confused, with the England International's future—over a month down the line from the time he said he wanted to leave—still completely in the dark.

According to Sky Sports, Rooney will meet with new (and former, accounting for their time together at Everton) boss David Moyes this Wednesday. This will be the pivotal moment in the saga. 

After the meeting we will know if the man who top scored for Sir Alex Ferguson during his time at the club will be playing in the red of Manchester next season, or plying his trade elsewhere.

If Rooney does stay then there shouldn't be too much of a headache for Moyes other than finding a way to implement all of United's best attacking players into the same starting XI—an issue most Premier League managers would kill for.

But what happens if United's prodigal son decides that he genuinely does want out this time?

Rooney has spent a solid eight years at the club now, and may truly wish to test his abilities elsewhere.

If this does happen then United have a problem, but not a crisis.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Rooney spotted looking far from excited on the Trophy-flaunting tour of Manchester

The England forward has taken a lot of stick from some Red Devils fans in the past month and a half.

Comments made questioning his loyalty and morals are for the most part fair enough—with many United fans rightfully feeling betrayed by the man they once adored.

However a lot of supporters seem to be falling into the trap of forgetting how skillful a player Rooney really this.

Rooney has played a critical role in all of United's title-winning seasons of the past eight years, and that would continue to be the case if he stayed.

This is the man that future footballing elite member Neymar has touted as one of the best players  in the sport today, as reported by the Telegraph. Clearly, Rooney is still doing something right on the pitch.

It would be a big blow to the squad if Rooney moved away from Old Trafford this summer, both on the pitch and off it.

In the past decade, Rooney has come to represent the majestic grittiness of English football, and for a long time United have been able to boast that England's best player (up or debate, but let's just go with it for the sake of avoiding an argument!) was on their books.

The versatility of the man is something that a lot of players can only dream of during their career.

Last season, despite perhaps not enjoying the role so much, Rooney dropped back into a more attacking midfield role, in order to play off United's new star striker Robin van Persie.

While this meant that he scored a considerable amount less than his new strike partner over the course of the season, Rooney was able to help Michael Carrick and the rest of the United midfield with both defensive and offensive duties.

Rooney has always been one for tracking back to make a challenge, and in this new role he thrived on the chance to get stuck in more to his opponents, often winning the ball back in a dangerous position before laying off to Carrick, who had made space for him.

Going forward from this role was also something that came naturally, with world-class long balls becoming the norm and powerful runs through the center of an opposing defense striking terror into teams across the league.

An example of one of those amazing balls is provided in the video below. I'm sure many fans will remember this goal for years to come.

So what if all of this just goes away?

Well that is where United fans need not panic as much as some of them are currently.

While last season was far from meteoric for new signing Shinji Kagawa, the Japanese International was dogged with injury and was primarily played out of his favored position just behind the center forward.

Instead, Kagawa was pushed into a more central midfield role, stunting his creative abilities and forcing a man who, let's face it, isn't a giant in a position which requires a lot of strength. 

Towards the end of the campaign, Fergie started using Kagawa out wide on the left. While this was a position that he would on occasion play in for Borussia Dortmund, it was again fair from his natural role.

Factor in that this was his debut season in the English top flight and a nasty injury picked up near the start of the season, and you can easily forgive Kagawa for his mediocrity.

If Rooney leaves then expect to see a totally different side of Kagawa.

While Rooney dislikes playing second fiddle to RVP and would prefer his old role as chief goalscorer back, Kagawa is crying out to be played in Rooney's position.

Given a chance in this role. we would see the creative talent that led Kagawa to be named Bundesliga footballer of the season for 2011-12.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

During the Confederations Cup, Kagawa adopted this role in earnest for his national side, and was one of the best players in the whole of the group stages, nearly leading his Samurai Blue to a breath-taking victory over Italy.

With Kagawa in the team United can continue to flourish.

If Thiago Alcantara joins up with the club, as suggested by Goal.com, then the role left vacant by Kagawa will be filled by a player who actually wants to play in that position.

Suddenly the Red Devils will find themselves with an attacking midfield lineup to rival any in the EPL.

So in conclusion, while David Moyes should do all that he can to convince Rooney to stay at the club, United are far from disaster if the forward does decide to leave this summer.

Manchester United have the players to back up a potential Rooney exit, and that winning mentally never dies with some of the old boys—such as Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand—who will continue to push the club forward mentally, if far less physically than they used to.

Rooney is a great player, but he is one man. Fergie made it clear during his legendary reign that no one man is bigger or better than the team.

David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona. All great players who left only for United to continue their dominance of English football.

Will Rooney be another name on that list?

One thing is for certain however; this great club, it will endure.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @Eddie_Edmonds

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