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How Manchester United Forward Wayne Rooney Can Reach His Full Potential

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United scores to make it 4-0 during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Norwich City at Old Trafford on March 2, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Max TowleAnalyst IJuly 15, 2013

Wayne Rooney has put himself in a very difficult situation.

The Manchester United forward is determined to leave Old Trafford, even if he is yet to hand in an official transfer request.

In that respect, at least he learned something from the previous time he expressed wantaway intentions in 2010.

Many fans of the Red Devils have finally turned against the 27-year-old for good.

If he wants to leave, let him. If a player does not want to play for Manchester United, why should Manchester United want him to?

Others still recognise in him his innate ability and world-class natural talent. The world's best should move to Old Trafford, not away from the historic ground.

But even Rooney's ability has been called into question this summer.

Former United fitness coach Mick Clegg told The Sun "Wayne could still be as good as Cristiano if he emulated his attitude to the gym."

The claim is an interesting one. Rooney's attitude to training has never been considered exemplary.

If Rooney does remain in Manchester next season, here are three ways he can reach his full potential:

 

Positioning

Robin van Persie's arrival in Manchester last summer resulted in a change in position for Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman was the preferred lone striker, while Rooney was shunted back into an unfamiliar attacking midfield role.

His form was mixed last season. At times he thrived in a deeper role, but his understanding with Van Persie never reached its creative peak.

By the end of the campaign, it was clear Rooney was unhappy at no longer leading the line.

He is a striker, pure and simple. A clinical, powerful goalscorer. If Manchester United were to ever get the best out of him, it would be as a No. 9.

This is not to suggest that Van Persie should make way, only to propose the best way for the Red Devils to maximise Rooney's abilities.

 

Attitude

Wayne Rooney has now demanded to leave Old Trafford twice.

The club's highest wage earner seems to have given up on United and the fans who have treated him so well.

There may be unseen circumstances behind the scenes that we are unaware of, but on the face of it, his attitude has been brought into serious question.

It is not just his attitude to training as Clegg puts it, but his attitude to the game as a whole.

His sulking at being played out of position does not represent the Rooney of old, the player with an un-ending passion and desire to play the game.

The scowl on his face must go. It is not just a commitment to the team that is needed, but a commitment to himself as a footballer.

 

Training

Of course the most tangible area for Rooney to improve is his overall fitness.

There have been times in his career, more so last season, when he looked overweight and completely out-of-shape.

This should be a cardinal sin for any footballer, let alone one making well-in excess of £200,000-a-week.

The raw explosiveness of his youth has gone, replaced by a more tactical thinker on the pitch. But that should not excuse his lackadaisical approach to training.

If there is one manager who can bring the physical best out of Wayne Rooney it is David Moyes.

The Scotsman is known for being a hard taskmaster, demanding absolute dedication from his players in training.

It will come down to whether Rooney wants to be subservient to a man who once sued him.

 

Of course, the above ideas represent the "ideal world" scenario.

But in reality, Rooney's long-term place at Old Trafford is in genuine risk.

The arrival of the likes of Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie have rendered him far less vital to the team than he has been in previous campaigns.

If he stays at United, he will have to improve both his overall attitude and commitment to training. He will also need to fight to earn a place in the lone striker role he covets.

 

What do you think the future holds for Wayne Rooney?

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