Wayne Rooney Is Not to Blame for Manchester United's Opening Loss

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2014

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring against Swansea City during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Aug. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

There are plenty of people to blame for Manchester United's miserable start to the season, but Wayne Rooney is not one of them. 

The club dropped a 2-1 match at home against Swansea City, a result that is extremely rare, according to ESPN's Paul Carr:

Throughout the match, the squad looked flat and unable to keep up with an opponent that will likely be no better than a mid-table challenger. After a performance like this, it is easy to question the captain and most recognizable figure on the roster in Rooney. However, this defeat should not lie on his shoulders.

The forward was impressive throughout the match, doing his best to be around the ball as often as possible. He was aggressive in his shots while also creating opportunities for teammates.

Rooney's best play of the day was the side's only goal, an impressive finish that came off a corner:

This score evened things up in the 53rd minute, causing many to believe a comeback was on its way. Unfortunately, the rest of the team could not rally around the score and Swansea scored the game-winner in the 72nd minute.

Even in the loss, WhoScored.com decided Rooney was the best player on the pitch:

Of course, winning Man of the Match is not anywhere near as important as winning the match itself. Fortunately, the captain handled himself like a professional in his post-game comments:

These are the types of things you want to hear from a veteran leader. You can be certain he will do everything in his power to lift the club up and get the most out of his teammates in the coming matches. No matter what, he will come through with his own best effort to help his side win.

Manager Louis van Gaal was initially concerned about Rooney focusing too much on the captaincy, saying, "I think he wanted to show more than the upmost best to the public that he is Wayne Rooney, the new captain. Then I said to him: 'Let it fly, let it fly.' It is more important how you perform and not the captaincy," via Simon Stone of BBC Sport.

He proved in this match that he was not afraid to "let it fly" because the forward's effort was as much as you could ask for at this point.

Still, the biggest problem is that Manchester United are just not very good at this point. Things will be better when Robin van Persie and others are fit, but the starting XI on Saturday is simply not a top lineup.

Premier League fan Piers Morgan thinks Rooney is the only player who would even play for a top club:

Van Gaal is likely to make some additions before the transfer window closes. Hopefully, he brings in someone who can link up with Rooney and create a dangerous attack.

Until that point, though, the veteran player will remain nothing more than a world-class player competing with mediocre teammates.


Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter