Rooney Form A Reason To Worry?

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Magnus can’t understand how anyone is doubting Wayne Rooney’s long term prospects.
While it may not matter all that much at the present time, with Manchester United doing so well in the Premieriership, it’s still a bit alarming that Wayne Rooney continues to suffer from the longest dip in form of his so far illustrious career.

The media, as well as United fans, have long since picked up on this, and everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter. A select few nutters reckon that the boy’s simply overhyped – that although he’s an excellent player, perhaps he’s not quite talent everyone thought he was. Others draw parallels to players like Robbie Fowler or Paul Gascoigne, whose physique and performance peaked at a young age.

It’s mostly rubbish, as Rooney will certainly start scoring sooner rather than later, but there’s no doubting he’s slightly off the boil. But there’s a number of reasons why it’s unbelievably premature to start writing him off.

First of all, Rooney seems to be tired, both mentally and physically. Playing in nearly all United’s games, as well as England’s, for the past three years would take its toll on most players, and especially so on a player that, as we tend to forget, is still only 21 years old. Rooney, for all his industrious work on the pitch, is clearly in need of some rest, and the manager’s decision to grant the youngster a ten day enforced vacation could prove a masterstroke. Hopefully he’ll come back refreshed and ready to spearhead United’s assault on the Premiership.

Furthermore, the weight of expectation placed on Rooney since he exploded on to the scene with that wonder goal against Arsenal in 2002 might finally be affecting him. It’s not easy for anyone to be the fulcrum of both your national team and the world’s most famous football club, and much less so for one young enough to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s grandson.

The spectacular form of Cristiano Ronaldo has also made Rooney’s contribution seem that much more insignificant. The young Portuguese superstar has really come of age over the past six months to the point where plenty of pundits and supporters alike are claiming Ronaldo’s form, rather than Rooney’s, dictates Manchester United’s fortunes. Although this assessment may be premature, the mere suggestion of it speaks volumes. In many ways, it signifies how far Ronaldo has come, and conversely, how far Rooney has fallen, since their little tussle in the World Cup.

He’s also never been a prodigious scorer. Rooney is more Cantona than he is a Shearer or van Nistelrooy. He contributes in other, more imperceptible ways. His creativity on the ball, his vision, his work-rate, and his motivational-abilities all set him apart from even the most accomplished of players and ensures that his place in the team is never at risk, not even when he’s in a slump like at present.

Finally, it can be argued that Rooney’s role in the team is changing. In seasons past, when Manchester United’s been a much less impressive outfit, Rooney has oftentimes needed to carry the team on his young shoulders. Now, as United are showing championship-form and the other players are carrying their share of the burden, Rooney can play the role of the provider – the role many believe he is destined to play both for club and country. Rooney’s a natural on the ball, with great vision and creativity, and seems just as happy making a goal as he is to score one. As such, his goals tally will probably suffer, but his influence will grow exponentially as soon as he’s accustomed to his role.

So while he may not be banging in the goals, it’s hardly at crisis in Wayne’s world.