Breaking Down Wayne Rooney's Importance to Manchester United
Wayne Rooney is in the business of goals.
Whether it's for Manchester United or England, his job is to make them and score them.
With his right foot, left foot, head, inside the box and outside, Rooney has built a reputation as a fearsome goalscorer.
He's scored spectacular goals, tap-ins and everything else in between, and he's scored lots of them, 202 in 410 games for United and 38 in 86 caps for England.
It's easy to look at Rooney's natural talent, sturdy frame and history and label him a maverick.
A player who plays without reins or constraints, one who would play in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley in the same way he would in a five-a-side on the streets of Croxteth.
And while that's true to some extent, there's a lot more to him.
He might not look like a thinking footballer, but his intelligence shines through in most of his performances.
His touch and technique hasn't been taught. It's a gift that only certain players possess. His movement is instinctive, knowing where to find space or where he's most likely to get the ball.
Rooney can lead the line, or drop deeper to link midfield with attack.
He's also become more patient since bursting through at Everton, but the desire to be involved is the same as it was at 16.
But it's tempered with a realisation that he doesn't always have to have the ball at his feet to affect the game. That's come with age and maturity.
Sir Alex Ferguson knew he was getting a quick, direct forward player when he paid Everton £25 million in 2004. But he might not have known he was also getting a selfless team player.
In nine years at Old Trafford, Rooney has played on the right, the left and in midfield in addition to his favoured striker role.
Each time Ferguson knew that what Rooney lacked in natural aptitude for the position he would make up for with work rate and determination.
Rooney admitted last week he doesn't particularly like being shunted around, but he's never been unwilling to follow instructions.
Even when he's played as a striker, Ferguson and now Moyes have asked him to do a vital defensive duty.
In the past he's been given man-marking jobs on Claude Makelele, Andrea Pirlo and Sergio Busquets, his role being to stop them playing, to prevent them passing to players who can better hurt United's defence, stopping a side's attack at the source.
It's a dirty job, but one that Rooney has shown the discipline to do, and do well.
It's a part of his game that often goes unnoticed, but it's no less important than sticking the ball in the net.
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