Wayne Rooney the Elephant in the room
Top of the league and right back in the mix in Europe! It’s not been a bad week for Manchester United fans has it? However, we wouldn’t be United fans if we didn’t find something to moan about so let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way.
And when I say elephant in the room I mean Wayne Rooney – no it’s not a reference to Rooney being overweight – although his first touch does resemble that of a rubber ball hitting an elephant’s backside at the moment. No, for those unaware of the saying “Elephant in the room” it is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. Manchester United’s elephant in the room is Wayne Rooney and quite frankly his performances aren’t good enough.
For those who watched it live we launched our new player ratings idea last night – CLICK HERE to watch – and I scored Rooney a five out of ten. Six is average and I, like the majority of United fans, felt Rooney’s performance was below par. Some said five was generous and a three or four at best was more fitting of his abysmal display – one fan even scored him a minus six but I suspect they didn’t quite grasp the concept and were therefore most likely a bitter scouser. But maybe five was a bit generous? Personally I couldn’t comprehend going below a five for a man who is being paid three hundred thousand pounds a week to captain the club we love though but maybe I’m still in Egypt getting wet? Stuck in De-Nile.
The big question is can Rooney get back to what some of us still believe he can be? I’ve backed him all season, saying he’ll prove the doubters wrong, he’ll get 20 goals plus and we’ll see the Rooney of three years ago. Reading that sentence back I now realise how foolish I look – in fact if I’m not careful nonsense like that will get me headhunted by Mirror Sport. Three years is a long time and maybe Rooney is on the decline? I’m not quite ready to accept that yet but one thing I’ve always said is name a game Rooney has been our stand out player under Van Gaal. The fact we can’t name one in over sixty games is abysmal. And for those who want to use his hat trick against European minnows this season as an example I’d say two things. One, he wasn’t the standout player. Two, any forward would have taken those three chances.
I suppose when I re-evaluate where I stand on Rooney – and those of us who have backed him do need to remove our heads fromour backsides and do that because he has been very poor this season – I know he’s nowhere near the Rooney we’re meant to be paying for. We’re paying for a top of the range Ferrari and we’re getting a 06 plate Ford Fiesta with one hundred thousand miles on the clock.
Will Van Gaal drop him? No chance. The media love Rooney and whilst I’m certain LVG is astute enough to realise the fans are running out of patience he’ll keep picking Rooney to avoid the media storm he’d get for dropping him. Which in fairness I kind of agree with. Drop Rooney and the media will descend on Van Gaal and United and create havoc with days of Rooney nonsense. Why would LVG want that when his side are top of the league and the squad is clearly happy and working together. The old adage, why fix something that’s not broken comes to mind. Then again, another one of, when the horse is on its last legs put it out of its misery, does too.
So what’s the solution? The reality is he’ll keep playing and we’ll keep hoping he’ll click in to form. Although there is one roll of the dice I’ve been saying United should roll for the last twelve months. Relieve Rooney of the captaincy. He may be an inspiration to the younger players and give good team talks in the changing room but let’s not insult fans intelligence and say he’s anywhere near what we expect on the pitch. The cold harsh truth is he couldn’t lead an army of ants to a picnic when it comes to the most important part of being a captain and my theory is that it actually holds him back. Going back to the “name one standout game Rooney has had under LVG” it’s worth noting that every game he’s played for Van Gaal has been as captain. What if that’s the problem?
What if the captaincy is given to someone else and Rooney is told to focus on his game or face being dropped. What if we then get back the tenacious, focussed Rooney? It’s a big what if but I believe it’s the solution to the problem.
And believe me it’s a problem I want us to solve sooner rather than later. Because talking about Rooney every week is like analysing an episode of Eastenders – depressing, repetitive, with a predictably bad finish.
By Mark Goldbridge