As Mourinho gets accustomed to the role of Manchester United manager, he will be devising a plan to bring his team back to the top of the premiership. Within those considerations will be captain Wayne Rooney and how to best utilise the record goal-scorer in the team.
According to the Daily Mail, Rooney is eyeing a permanent move to central midfield, a role in which he has been deployed in the latter stages of the season for United and currently for England in the Euros.
The Englishman has acknowledged he is no longer the same player that burst onto the scene with a hat-trick with a canning ability to skip past defenders and place fear into a goalkeeper. Rather, Rooney realises what Sir Alex Ferguson identified three seasons ago: the forward needs to move into midfield to prolong his career at Manchester United.
There is no doubting, while gifted, the Everton-product will need time to adjust into his new role. Rooney’s performance against Russia in the Euros portrayed his ability to dictate the pace of the game while illustrating the skill to execute a long-range pass and pick out a ball for a striker.
However, while effortless, Rooney provided a less-convincing performance against Wales, losing the ball and choosing the wrong pass.
It is worth noting Rooney, while experienced, is fairly new to a midfield role. He is also playing with Eric Dier and Deli Alli: talented, but young footballers who do not have the ability to dictate game-play.
That makes Rooney’s performances for England more difficult, given he is expected to run a game despite playing less than half a season in that position.
This will not be an issue at United with many talented midfielders such as Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin and Carrick who can dictate play, freeing Rooney to push forward as a box-to-box midfielder and present a goal threat.
Having played as a first or second striker for the majority of his career, it also provides United with a player who understands the runs a striker will attempt to make.
It will take time, but Wayne Rooney has all the tools to be a success in midfield, thus prolonging his career at Manchester United. With three years to run on the English and Manchester United captain’s contract, time will be afforded for performances to be at a level expected. Mourinho’s recent sentiments suggesting Rooney can retire at United also work into his favour.
He will always have his critics, but expect Rooney to flourish in a midfield role. Who knows? He might just earn himself a stay at Old Trafford for life.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand.