Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rooney: being wasted or wasting away?

With Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez and Luis Nani scoring 19, 7 & 7 Barclays Premier League goals  respectively, many of the United faithful are beginning to worry about the diminishing goal return of last season's top scorer, Wayne Rooney. With both Nemanja Vidic and Tom Cleverley ahead of him in the League scoring charts, what started as a trivial anomaly has become a full blown goal drought.  Although his contributions to the team have not be negligible, his lack of goals has been a problem, both for his personal confidence and for the teams fluidity. But the problem is not solely of his creation.

Having suffered ankle ligament damage in last season's Champions League quarter final against Bayern Munich, Rooney has had a torrid time since, rushing back too soon to try and win a historic fourth consecutive league title.  His summer was blighted by newspaper headlines, sore feet and Fabio Capello's mind numbing tactics, and returned to Carrington a washed out, shadow of his former self. His poor form, and fading shooting ability culminated in this:

Since the start of 2011, Sir Alex has begun to play Wayne out of position in an attempt to make best use of his other talents, allowing Wayne the time and space to rediscover the sharpness and confidence to find the goal scoring touch. Its also allowed Sir Alex to use a more reliable player on the left flank, with Giggs now a bit-part player, Nani flourishing on the right hand side in Valencia's absence, Wayne is a safer option than Obertan or Bebe, both offensively and defensively. This tactic, however logical from the teams point of view, whereby it serves the greater good, is short termist and is not helpful in the long run. Berbatov, Nani and Hernandez may come close to scoring 60 league goals between them this season, but to progress in the Champions League, we will without doubt need all 4 of our strikers (Owen) fit, fresh and firing on all cylinders.  

Some pessimistic fans believe that Rooney, who started playing professionally at 16, may even be burned out at 24, and that the world has seen the best of him last season. I however, have always believed that Wayne belonged in the heat of battle, attacking from a deeper central midfield position, in the position vacated by Scholes circa 2005.  

Wayne's range of passing, ball retention abilities, vision and shooting would make him an ideal candidate to fill Scholes' role long term and that salvation may lie in taking up the number 8 shirt again!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On The Eve Of Curly Hair's Birthday

Today is 30th Birthday of Owen Hargreaves (remember him?). First of all , I would like to say Happy 30TH Birthday to him. Hopefully he will come out of his injury crisis and grace the Old Trafford pitch once again. The reason why I say hopefully he will is because I firmly believe a Hargreaves type Midfielder is all United needs.
In the last Barclays Premier League game we saw United fighting hard to curb the attack from a lovely Spurs Midfield. Although one Nemanja Vidic , who in my opinion had one of the best games of his career, was just too solid for Spurs. Luka Modric,Van Der Vaart and Bale had large amount of possession and surely looked the ones who would score. Anyways back to topic. I believe that we need a Hargreaves/Scholes type midfielder partnership in our team. One which can lay back sometimes and play the role of being a defensive anchor of the team. Similarly a Scholes like player who can feed the attacking players with pin point passes and chips. A combination of these type of players is what United need if they are going to play a 4-4-2 formation. The Spurs game gave many the impression of lack of link between the defenders and the forwards, the link which shall be performed by the midfield was just lost in the Spurs game. We hardly saw ball rolling in the feet of midfielders and then patiently passing it to a forward which ends in goal or at least a attack.
With recent performances from Anderson no one will argue that he could well be the energetic feeder to the forward. We saw some of his balls to Berbatov in the game against Sunderland which were pin point and clearly he has very good vision and is very energetic. Also Anderson came very close to scoring but the post denied him a goal. So we can expect Ando to play the role of moving around the ball to Valencia and Nani at the wings and also to chip in few goals. That leaves us to the question who can play the role Hargreaves did a few seasons back brilliantly. I believe a Carrick-Fletcher mid in a 4-4-2 mid is not happening. Both are very good players, just not together in a 2 man midfield, as the midfield becomes slow, less creative and less commanding. As a result many times Rooney had to come down and help the Mid. Like we saw at the Spurs game. A bad day for Nani and we were just not there in the Mid against the Spurs. Nothing happening much although, Giggs and Carrick kept the ball going a bit in 2nd half but it hardly resulted in anything. Mind you we had arguably the best forward in the EPL Berba (statistically) and a certain not-so-in-form Rooney who had the best chance of even coming close to score. Look at it this way, We have a Anderson in our team, we have 2 really strong Wingers in Nani and Valencia. Obertan and Bebe can come from bench. And then all we need a defensive, firm Central Midfielder like Hargreaves. Then we would not need Rooney to lay back in the midfield at all. He can take care of getting in the box and scoring along with Berba and Chicharito. Certainly after a few years SAF will be going with Rooney and Chicharito up front so at that time this Def Mid- Attacking Mid combination in a 4-4-2 formation could do wonders. I presumed that Chicharito is too talented to be on bench and SAF going with a 4-5-1 mid in future. So in my opinion this can be the best option for United. Rooney concentrates on what he does best i.e scoring goals and we will have a strong Mid which can dictate the game. The game is won and lost in the Midfield someone said.