Why Wayne Rooney Will Be Manchester United's Key Player Against City
Having just become only the fourth player in history to score 200 goals for Manchester United Wayne Rooney appeared rather joyless and agitated when he appeared in front of the television cameras after United’s 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.
When asked by an ITV reporter if he was now settled at Old Trafford, as reported Adam Crafton and John Edwards in the Daily Mail, Rooney had an opportunity to apply some balm to the fraught situation over the summer, but instead he chose to be unnecessarily brusque and defensive.
“Listen, I’m concentrating on my football as I have done all summer," said Rooney. "I’ve put my head down, worked hard to get myself fit for the season. I’m pleased with the way I have come back and delighted that I am scoring goals.”
Asked directly if he had requested to leave the club Rooney dodged the question and petulantly replied, “Listen, I’ve just told you, I am concentrating on my football which I’ve been doing all summer.”
So Rooney is not yet prepared to banish the speculation that he wanted to leave in the summer and commit his future to United.
However, the agitation he displayed on Tuesday has certainly not spread to the pitch, where his old self seems to be re-emerging.
At Old Trafford against Leverkusen, Rooney appeared to be playing with more pleasure, and crucially, more freedom.
The signing of Marouane Fellaini has given United’s midfield more steel and stability and allowed Rooney to push further up the field to be closer to Robin van Persie.
Rooney is no longer required to drop back and help out the midfield as much and can now concentrate on what he does best: attacking and scoring goals.
In this role, Rooney has scored three times in two games—once against Crystal Palace at the weekend, and twice against the Germans in the Champions League on Tuesday.
After recovering from his head injury, and bolstered by his new protective headband, Rooney will be United’s key man again against Manchester City on Sunday.
Rooney is now developing a very promising partnership with Robin van Persie.
Since the Dutchman arrived at United last summer, United have played a total of 60 games, but Rooney and Van Persie have only started in attack together 18 times.
However, in those 18 games the pair have scored 24 goals between them.
David Moyes can see the obvious potential in the pair working more closely together.
The wounds of the summer remain raw, and it is probably too early to pretend it didn’t happen at all.
At the moment, however, Rooney has shown he has the commitment to United where it matters most: on the pitch.
Driven by a need to possibly seek forgiveness and prove himself all over again Rooney could become United’s most important player this season, starting against City on Sunday.
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