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Wayne Rooney: What a difference a year makes

This time last season, if Wayne Rooney had been ruled out for a month, we would have been totally gutted. As well as being the glue that holds our team together, showing great vision on the attack and working tirelessly to help win the ball back, he also scores a huge proportion of our goals. He scored a goal in each of our opening two games last season against West Brom and Spurs, before scoring a hattrick against Arsenal in our third game. By the end of the September, he had scored nine goals in five games.

Things are different this year. We started with a 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park, a difficult ground to go to, following a disappointing performance from United. Rooney wasn’t alone in being unimpressive but he stood out as one of the worst performers, chugging around the pitch, carrying too much weight, sweating too much and being nowhere near sharp enough. A couple of chances fell to him and he fluffed them both.

Several United fans were calling for him to be dropped for the next game, a viewpoint I didn’t share, and replaced with one of our fitter strikers. Robin van Persie needed time to settle with his new team after not having much of a pre-season and Javier Hernandez didn’t even make the bench for Goodison so was probably due some minutes on the pitch. Whilst I don’t agree with a player earning close to £1m a month smoking, eating and drinking himself silly during the summer, our priority was to get Rooney fit, whatever words were said about his unacceptable condition behind the scenes, so I wanted him to start. Still, you’ve got to trust the manager, and Robin van Persie, supported by Shinji Kagawa, was his starting choice. Ferguson’s decision was, of course, the right one, with them RvP and Kagawa scoring our first two goals of the game after going 1-0 down.

Rooney came on with over 20 minutes to go and didn’t set the world alight but maybe he looked a bit better. However, in injury time, just outside our box, a player went down injured. The other players huddled round him and a man near me went “it’s not Van Persie, is it?”. This time a year ago, the idea of Rooney being on the deck, needing a stretcher to take him off the pitch, would have driven us nuts, but that man sitting near me seemed to be voicing what most of us were thinking. No, of course we don’t want Rooney injured, because he can be such an important player for us, but judging on his current impact compared to our new striker, it’s fair to say we’d be more disappointed if RvP was out.

Four weeks means Rooney will definitely be missing Southampton away and Wigan at home as well as our first Champions League game. He could be available for Liverpool away, although like Goodison, it’s not a ground he typically plays well at and if he hasn’t had a game since Fulham, would likely only be an option from the bench. This time last year, the idea of Rooney missing Anfield would have gutting, despite knowing he hasn’t had a good game there for years, but now, is it that much of a problem? We’ll start Van Persie with Kagawa behind him, we have the option of Chicharito, who scored a late equaliser there last season, and Danny Welbeck. With our injury crisis at the back, our lack of options in midfield, if we could afford to take an injury anywhere, it’s to one of the strikers.

The hope is that Rooney will come back in to the team raring to go, eager to show Van Persie (who hopefully will be at the top of scorers table) who is boss, looking far fitter and ready than he did in our opening two games. When he’s on form, Rooney is our most important player, but he looked as though the season started too soon for him. Maybe seeing the other players doing well over the next month will be the incentive he needs to sort himself out.

Get well/fit soon, Wazza.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. MarkoWire says:

    Not sure where the mirror got there BULL SHIT reports from today

  2. T. says:

    Berbalove always in my heart! Hope u have a great time at la viola and finally get the games u so much deserve. The single most stunning stunt Sir Alex ever did was to let Berbatov get lower in rank then both Chicharito and the funny haircut Welbz.

  3. Dandivine7 says:

    Goatinaunitedshirt I got you wrong. I’m sorry. Thanks for clearing it up!

  4. fergie is the boss says:

    samuel – united WE stand – when you are trying to rebuild a football spine with broken parts, it will never be settled.Even if jones and smallen stop becoming injury prone, we will still need another defender. But I do feel the boss has made a rookie error by still thinking ferdinand and scholes should be a big part of the squad, without seeing some younger players who can take their places. I am still hoping we add atleast one more piece to she squad before the window shuts, as the squad has not been truly strengthened, we have improved the squad, but not strengthened it

  5. Shebangsthedrums says:

    What do you reckon the chances are of seeing Fletcher and/or Evans in tonight’s U21′s game? I’m hoping to see both, it’ll be good for Jonny to get some game time before stepping back into the first team and any minutes on the pitch for Fletcher is a bonus.

  6. Mahesh says:

    A go for Dembele sounds good, but the failure to do so also points to the fact that SAF is beginning to think (again!) that Ando might do the job, and based on the evidence from the Fulham game and the short stint Ando had against Everton, I think he might just be right…

  7. wayne says:

    Enough of Dembele he’s one footed and doesn’t score many goals.Utd put a low ball bid in would’ve been a ok addititon if the price had been right
    No big club thought he was worth 15 mill so get over it
    Dembele this Dembele that,fuck dembele

  8. Marq says:

    Just want to clear this up.

    When I say Dembele, I don’t literally mean Dembele. I just mean a midfielder that gives a physical presences, who that can be, I don’t know. United have their scouts, they probably have a list of such players, and it is Sir Alex’s call that we don’t need such a player, whether it is because we already have Anderson or we have Tunni waiting in the wings, we will never know.

    That said, I think our squad will be as it is now, so lets just get behind our team and get No.20! Game On!

  9. Zibbie says:

    Marq well all get it, do you? SAF is the man, the constant whine for a CDM is an insult to the man.
    Some of my best mates here share your same feeling. Dead horse out back, 3 wakes for a dollar.

  10. Scott the Red says:

    NBI Red Onion – Did a reactions to the Everton game. Had a wedding to go to after the Fulham game. If you want me to put my life on hold to write match reactions, that isn’t going to happen. The last time I did match reactions two days later, I had lots of naggy old lady comments like yours complaining that it was too late. So if I’m not going out after a game, I’ll write the reactions. If I am, then I won’t. Like it or lump it.

  11. NBI Red Onion says:

    Come on Scott – you get great cred out of this blog. I don’t understand the like it or lump it comment. People who joined en mass originally did so to read what you wrote. It’s a compliment. Obviously, noting down your reactions post a game as soon as is ideal, but you don’t seem like the type of guy to be scared of writing a late write up on your own blog. There is demand for your content, match analysis is the main part of that. And a genius like you, I am sure you can trot out a good note in under an hour.

  12. DreadedRed says:

    NBI Red Onion

    You claim that you started reading this blog for StR’s match analysis.

    What a pity that you then chose to repeatedly call for the death of Dimitar Berbatov.
    Also shameful was your vile expressions on the sexual activities of moms of RoM posters.

    Your repeated unsavory attacks on StR and RoM for what you to perceive to be poor performance by our host are unnecessary, undeserved, conceited and selfish.

    You are the last person to be entitled to complain or educate people on behaviour.

  13. Scott the Red says:

    NBI Red Onion – Tbh, I’m tired of all the moaning. It’s nothing to do with being scared but I’m not going to sit there and take time to write something only to have a load of people moan because it’s two days after the game. Can’t be arsed with it. So if I’m not doing owt after a game, I’ll do a reactions, if I am, then I won’t.


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