6 Things Wayne Rooney Does Better Than Robin Van Persie
Robin van Persie claimed the plaudits last season, as his performances outshone Wayne Rooney. Rooney, apparently keen to leave Old Trafford, cut a forlorn figure for a good part of the season, as van Persie scored freely.
However, Rooney has many fine qualities as a player.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should declare that I have a considerable personal bias towards van Persie when comparing the two, but I shall put that aside and have a look at some of the things Rooney does better than his Dutch colleague.
Wayne Rooney's positional flexibility has been both a blessing and a curse during his time at Manchester United.
Often sacrificed to a wide berth during the magisterial reign of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford, Rooney has regularly found himself playing somewhere other than his favoured position since Ronaldo's departure too.
Robin van Persie has also spent time playing wide and behind a more advanced striker, but Rooney's career at Manchester United has been practically defined by his ability to play in more than one role.
Rooney also drops all the way back into midfield when needed, something van Persie does not seem well equipped to do. If you had to chose a utility forward, Rooney would be the obvious choice.
Spending the best part of his career in the same team as Paul Scholes has made Rooney's raking long passes an excellent weapon in his armoury, one which van Persie does not share.
Wayne Rooney has an immense work rate. Throughout his career, he has worked hard to win the ball back when United have lost it in forward areas.
It must be exhausting to play against Rooney when he is on song because when he has the ball, it requires tremendous concentration to avoid mistakes against him, and when you have the ball, he will be trying to win it back.
Robin van Persie is by no means a lazy forward, but he has a more traditional approach to the role of a striker, and he will not hassle opponents to the extent Rooney will.
That Wayne Rooney is both willing and able to track back is one of the reasons that he is preferred in a deeper lying role to Robin van Persie.
Although Rooney himself declared a dislike for being asked to play in midfield, he is quick to drop back into that area when required during the course of a game.
Although there have been a couple of occasions recently where he has let a runner go from midfield, this is not down to any lack of work rate on Rooney's part, and he has proven himself very willing to track opposition runners.
He has sacrificed his own attacking output in favour of providing shape and stability in United's midfield in a way that van Persie has never had to, something which the Dutchman is probably glad of.
Being a Vocal Presence on the Pitch
Wayne Rooney has been a vocal presence on the pitch since his breakthrough as a teenager, happy to square up to senior opponents, to be verbal with his team-mates and officials. It has got him into trouble on occasion, but it is also a noticeable presence.
If he is to be a regular captain for Manchester United in the future, this willingness to be vocal on the pitch could serve him well as he seeks to inspire his team-mates.
Robin van Persie is less likely to be seen shouting at his opponents and team-mates than Rooney, for better or worse.
Rallying the Crowd
The strains of Seven Nation Army rang out at Old Trafford a lot last season as Robin van Persie's name was sung over and over by the faithful.
However, he will have to go a long way before he matches Wayne Rooney's ability to get the crowd singing or chanting his name.
When Chelsea came to play United on the opening day of the season, following a summer-long pursuit of Rooney's signature, Jose Mourinho described United as a "special club" because United fans even sang Rooney's name when it appeared clear the player no longer wanted to be there.
Rooney rallies the crowd. His all-action style is easy to appreciate, and he is able to get the crowd going even when United are not playing well, by virtue of his defensive contributions. "The White Pele," as the song calls him, is well used to his actions resulting in an explosion of noise around Old Trafford.
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