Imagining a Chelsea Team with Wayne Rooney in Attack

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2014

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates his penalty goal against Tottenham Hotspur during their English Premier League soccer match at White Hart Lane, London, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

David Moyes confirmed on Friday that Wayne Rooney will be missing from the Manchester United line-up when his team travels south to face Chelsea this weekend.

If Jose Mourinho has his way, his absence from the United starting XI will become a permanent fixture.

Rooney's been struggling with a groin injury that has kept him out of action since the New Year's Day defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, but that hasn't stopped rumours of Chelsea's ongoing interest in the striker who has scored 11 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils in 2013-14.

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

Samuel Stevens of The Independent recently reported Chelsea were willing to wait until next summer to make another approach for the Englishman after pursuing him for much of the 2013 pre-season, a view also taken by Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express.

However, Jonathan Liew of The Telegraph suggests Mourinho may have finally given up the chase.

And at his press conference on Friday, as reported by the Mail's Sami Mokbel, Mourinho suggested his side will not get their hands on Rooney.

They don’t swap. They don’t sell. I don’t see that changing, they were very clear about that.

Will it be the same this summer? I think maybe this summer they will try to sell to a non-direct rival. But they were very clear, not to a domestic direct rival.

If those quotes indeed prove true, Chelsea fans will no doubt be disappointed given the prospect of what Rooney in attack could mean for their club.

This week the Blues brought Nemanja Matic back to the Stamford Bridge to bolster their midfield ranks; with Rooney joining him in either January or the summer, it would be the final piece of the jigsaw in making this team formidable.

With Eden Hazard and Oscar taking over the mantle as Chelsea's star performers this term, Rooney's presence alongside them is a mouth-watering thought.

The current United No. 10 would bring versatility and plenty more goals to the Chelsea attack, allowing Mourinho to play a number of different formations. He could even help get the best out of Fernando Torres and rescue Juan Mata's Chelsea career.




Mourinho has predominantly opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation at Stamford Bridge this season, utilising the overwhelming resources he has in attacking midfield, playing three behind a lone striker.

With Rooney partnering Torres in a strike duo, it would mean sacrificing a midfielder in the pivot. There could be defensive challenges with this, but with Oscar and Eden Hazard playing slightly deeper than their current positions, their defensive abilities would ease the burden on Matic in the holding role.

It would also see a return to the No. 10 position for Mata, a role that he has shown he is more than capable of filling after his impressive first two seasons at Stamford Bridge.

That would, of course, mean Mourinho going back on his belief that Oscar is more suited for the role, but playing the Brazilian deeper would mean Chelsea's attacking ability on the counter would be that much more impressive.

With the likes of Willian, Ramires, Andre Schurrle and Samuel Eto'o missing from this illustration, it shows how Rooney's presence will allow for squad rotation and different personnel to be considered.




Replicating the system Mourinho currently plays with this Chelsea team, Rooney has shown he is more than capable of slotting in behind the striker throughout his Manchester United career.

It could prove even more beneficial for him in a Chelsea shirt, given the high number of goals scored by Chelsea's attacking three.

Torres often likes to drop deep and receive possession, which would allow Rooney to switch positions with the Spaniard regularly, similar to what we see from Oscar, Willian and Hazard throughout matches.

Mourinho likes those three players behind the striker to work just as hard defensively as they do in attack, so that fact alone could have implications on Rooney's role in this system.

Alternatively, the Englishman could be Mourinho's lone frontman, with anyone from Mata, Willian, Hazard, Oscar or Schurrle scheming behind.




Mourinho hasn't used this system frequently, although it has reared its head of late when the Blues have looked to shake things up depending on the opposition.

It gives them a little more attacking balance, and sacrificing a midfielder in the pivot leaves room for five attacking players, with Rooney spearheading the attack.

It's a formation that would suit Rooney, working alongside Hazard and Oscar, with the pace and endeavour of Ramires and Schurrle on the break giving Chelsea a considerable threat as they build from the back.

It's all hypothetical, of course, but it shows the versatility adding Rooney would bring to Chelsea.

The United man is a talented goalscorer with a proven track record. If Chelsea can tempt him to West London, they can worry about systems and fitting him after.


Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes


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