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Repeatedly this season I’ve said that Wayne Rooney is our most important player. This isn’t to be confused with me thinking he’s our best player. Robin van Persie is a far superior striker and his 12 goals/6 assists in 16 starts go a long way to supporting this.

Against City, Rooney played a blinder, not only scoring two goals, but working hard all over the pitch. The result of this was us winning at a ground that hadn’t seen a defeat in the league for two years. Against Swansea, Rooney was appalling, put out one of his worst performances in a United shirt, and we drew 1-1.

I’m not trying to suggest that we’re a one man team or that Rooney makes all the difference between us winning and losing, but his form has a big say in how we play. Based on his performance against Swansea, which was truly woeful, he should be dropped for our game today. However, as Ferguson repeatedly reminds us, Rooney needs to play, and when he doesn’t, this has a harmful impact on his form. For this reason, we may see Rooney starting against Newcastle, although Javier Hernandez or Danny Welbeck (who has been shafted this season by being forced out of position) are more deserving.

Only QPR, Southampton and Reading have a worst record away from home than Newcastle this season. They haven’t won once yet and have only picked up 4 points from a possible 24. In contrast, United have picked up 21 points from a possible 24, winning all of our games apart from that one against Wigan, so you’d fancy us to do the business against Newcastle. They were a force to be reckoned with last season but this year they are floating 5 points above the relegation zone. After dropping points in our last game we need to sort ourselves out today.

Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley are proving to be our best combination in the centre of the park. It’s frustrating we don’t have wingers to match them though. Ashley Young has improved over recent weeks, after being dreadful for months, but Antonio Valencia, who was arguably our best player last season, has fallen way short of the mark this season. Our lead has dropped to four points, which is disappointing, so we need our squad to raise their game. Thankfully, Robin van Persie is still alive, but our other players should be raising their game to ensure we keep a comfortable distance.

Come on United!

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bwin bets – £5 wins you…
Rooney to score first: £20
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