Analysing Wayne Rooney's Performance vs. Hull City

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United competes with Mark Noble of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on December 21, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney is literally saving Manchester United's season.

The dynamic forward assisted on one goal, scored another and likely was the main cause of a Hull City own goal in United's 3-2 win on Boxing Day. He has now either scored or assisted on 20 of Manchester United's 31 goals.

And it was once again a virtuoso performance from the man who has been so brilliant from the start this campaign. For his efforts, gave Rooney an 8.7 rating and named him Man of the Match. It was a distinction he clearly earned.

After United shockingly fell behind 2-0 after just 13 minutes, the team earned a free kick in the 19th minute. Rooney sent a beautiful, threatening free kick into the box that found the head of Chris Smalling. The defender finished with aplomb, cutting Hull City's lead in half.

Then, Rooney struck in the 26th minute, a goal worthy of having poems written about it.

Danny Welbeck chested down a lobbed pass just outside of the box and sent it toward Rooney, who had just enough space to take a shot on the volley and rip a near-side shot past a helpless (and likely confounded) Allan McGregor.

Here's Fox Soccer on Rooney's goal:

OptaJoe provides some context for how impressive reaching 150 goals for Manchester United truly is:

Then, there was the own goal in the second half.

Ashley Young ripped a threatening cross into the box, and Rooney appeared to be on course to meet it and send it into the net. Hull's James Chester beat Rooney to the ball but was quite aware of the danger, rushing to clear the ball and instead sending it into his own net. 

HULL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  James Chester of Hull scores an own goal in front of Wayne Rooney of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Manchester United at KC Stadium on December 26, 2013 in Hull, England.  (Ph
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

But once again, it was Rooney's versatility and ability to be at the center of United's attack that made him so valuable. He interchanged with Welbeck beautifully in attacking positions. He dropped deeper into the midfield when required to do so. His work rate was once again superb.

For all of the drama this summer pertaining to Rooney's future at the club—and for all of the speculation as to whether he and Moyes would be able to coexist—he's not only been United's best player this year by a long shot but is also on the shortlist for Premier League PFA Player of the Year. 

Without him, United might have half of the points on the table. Robin van Persie may have been the star performer a season ago, but Rooney is leaving no doubt this year that he's United's talisman. 


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