David Moyes' Faith in Wayne Rooney Could Cost Him His Manchester United Job

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22:  Wayne Rooney (R) of Manchester United and manager David Moyes (L) arrive at the stadium before the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

When David Moyes walked into Sir Alex Ferguson's office at Carrington to discuss all things Manchester United last summer, there is little doubt that Wayne Rooney was one of the first subject matters they discussed. 

Of course, at the time Rooney was not Ferguson's flavour of the month, and with Robin van Persie banging in the goals and leading United to a 20th league championship, the Merseysider's stock was at an all-time low.

Everything seemed perfect for Rooney to exit Old Trafford. Replacing Fergie was a manager who knew Rooney better than anyone else in the game and a man who had sued the player for libel in 2007, as reported by The Telegraph

It was questionable whether Moyes and Rooney could work together, or whether Sir Alex would make it clear to his replacement that keeping Wazza at United was not an acceptable outcome.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20: Everton manager David Moyes celebrates with Wayne Rooney after Rooney's goal during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Everton and Leicester City at Goodison Park on December 20, 2003 in Liverpool, England.  (Ph
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

However, it soon became clear that Moyes still loved Wayne, and that Wayne was going to be infinitely happier being loved by Moyes, than dancing to Ferguson's tune. 

Before we knew it, Rooney was signing a new five-year deal with United worth a reported £300,000 a week, per BBC Sport

BBC Sport reported that Moyes said at the time:

We're all delighted. It's part of the rebuilding and part of it is also to make sure you keep the players you really want to keep. Everybody would want him [Rooney], you could see the clubs who did want him but there was never a chance he was going to leave Manchester United, certainly not on my watch.

Indeed, capturing Rooney's signature was a small victory for Moyes and a boost at a time when things on the football pitch looked very bleak. 

Moyes knew that losing Rooney would weaken his position in the public eye greatly and he had set about initiating a charm offensive on his former Everton player the second he stepped into the Old Trafford job. 

But BBC Sport's chief football writer Phil McNulty said it best when he wrote:

Manchester United's decision to award Wayne Rooney the most expensive long-term contract in the club's history is more than about just keeping one of their most influential players at Old Trafford.

This is about a demonstration—some might even say desperation—to show that United under David Moyes can still keep their best players even at a time when their own status in the domestic and European game is reduced, no matter how temporarily.

The key word here is desperation.

The desperation for Moyes to find a way to succeed. The desperation to retain the club's biggest star. The desperation to not appear weaker than a predecessor. 

What it did not address is how the football team will play over the next few years, and it did not underline what kind of philosophy that Moyes has for his version of Manchester United. It was conservation, rather than creativity. 

Jon Super

The personal statistics of Rooney cannot be argued with this season. The 28-year-old has 15 goals from his 27 Premier League matches this term, per Squawka, and a bagful of assists.

However, it is worth considering that Rooney has only missed six games in the league during United's winter of discontent. He has been present in the side for seven of United's 10 league defeats this campaign, unable to positively influence games as he once did.

This is not to suggest that Rooney was to blame for these defeats but as United's "best player" you would expect more impact for £300,000 a week. 

Moyes came to Old Trafford thinking that if he resolved the issues that Rooney had with the club, that his job would be easier. But United's issues lie as much with style as it does with substance.

Moyes' preference for a 4-4-1-1 with Rooney in the hole has led to much of United's misfiring this season.

Rooney has always been one to roam around a pitch, playing deeper than the normal archetypal attacker. But the truth is he is no trequartista, despite the number on his back. He does not have the creative ability of a David Silva or Eden Hazard

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 25:  David Silva of Manchester City competes with Wayne Rooney of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on March 25, 2014 in Manchester, England
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rooney does not link the midfield and striker successfully in normal play. He comes alive in the penalty area but spends a large portion of his time in a deeper position so he can stay involved. 

This type of play ends up isolating the striker, relying on width to service the attack. As we have seen for a long period now, United's wingers are poor. This makes 4-4-2 a non-starter for the club. 

United need a truly creative individual, or two, behind the striker and the bitter irony is that they have it.

Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa are perfect to play in either a 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree formation, or a continental style 4-2-3-1. These are the formations that Moyes should be working towards philosophically and physically. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United warm up prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park on February 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence G
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Rooney also has the ability to play in these formations but he might have to fight it out with Van Persie for the single slot at the top of the attack. 

What if the Dutchman's form dictates that he plays as the striker rather than Rooney, as last season? What if Mata and Kagawa prove they are the right combination to play more centrally behind RvP? Does this leave Rooney on the bench?

The issue here is that the scenario will not happen because Moyes already has his eggs in the Rooney basket. 

Rooney is the one outfield player at United whose position is guaranteed and this is very bad for the team. Yes, he earns the most and he is the most famous player, but is he the right player to lead United forward away from the tradition of 4-4-2?

I do not think he is.

In my opinion, Rooney is a goalscorer but not a creative dynamo. He is a very good No. 9. However, his first touch is simply not good enough to be the No. 10 at one of the biggest clubs in the world. It is an issue he has had throughout his career. 

His focus should be scoring goals and assisting in the penalty area, and not wandering into deeper areas just because he is impatient for the ball. He does not have the creativity or first touch of Mata or Kagawa, so it is not in the team's best interest to play him automatically in their positions. 

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 09:  David Moyes, manager of Manchester United gives instructions to Wayne Rooney during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Manchester United at Allianz Arena on April 9, 2014 in
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Looking into a crystal ball, it feels like this is a lesson that Moyes will never learn. He should play players in their best positions and not rotate a core around a solitary player. Rooney's work-rate is usually impressive and this is why he is loved by so many but modern football dictates something extra from deep-lying attackers.

Wazza should have to accept that maybe now and then he has to play second fiddle to others, as he did in last year's championship-winning season. 

But he will not. 

Manchester United and David Moyes are now slaves to Rooney and his performance levels. If he pulls it off and wins trophies, then great. If he fails, there is nothing anyone can do about it because he will automatically be picked for the team under Moyes' current strategy. 

The next few weeks will be interesting for United as Rooney recovers from a toe injury, forcing Moyes to play a different team to his first choice. The forms of Kagawa and Mata have been exciting, and the reintroduction of Adnan Januzaj has been welcomed by all.

Danny Welbeck has also shown that he has the tools to force his way into the team in Van Persie's absence. 

Hopefully we will see United play a more technical style, as they did without Rooney against Newcastle, with the match ending 4-0 to the Reds. 

But if Moyes enters the upcoming summer transfer window, ready to purchase a new team around the lifeblood of Wayne Rooney, he might just find that he crashes head first into a new level of failure, and ultimately loses his job. 


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