Scouting Report: Wayne Rooney

The England man again played 45 minutes before being taken off at the break, and although he did not get on the scoresheet he did look sharp and was involved in a thrilling move
Wayne Rooney played another 45 minutes of Manchester United's pre-season tour in the penalty shoot-out victory against Inter on Tuesday night, though he did not quite shine as he has done already in the United States this summer.

After scoring two against LA Galaxy and another two against Roma, the striker could not find the target against the Nerazzurri, but did look sharp and was involved in one breathtaking move.

Below, Goal charts the England forward's progress ahead of a crucial season at Old Trafford...


Rooney certainly looked sharp, which is always a good prospect for United fans, but he was unable to hit the heights he reached in his previous two games in the States.

He was involved in the highlight of the first half, when he was at the heart of an exhilarating seven-pass move which cut Inter to shreds. He initially played a first-time pass to Juan Mata 10 metres into the opposition half, continued his run and, after further contributions from Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck, received the ball back from the Spaniard and immediately played it back with the outside of his foot. Unfortunately Mata's cross was snuffed out and Rooney was denied a superb goal.

The rest of his contributions, perhaps typically for this stage of pre-season, were a combination of sharp and sloppy.

After 11 minutes he took the ball down on his stomach on the United right, and immediately scooped the ball away from the defender, catching him out and earning an extra yard of space. Rooney was caught up, however, and eventually won a throw-in, but the initial control hinted at the dribbling menace he provided when he first signed on at Old Trafford.

Like Welbeck, he dropped back to link up with his supporting midfielders, and in general he did this well, often finding team-mates with short, sharp passes. On occasion he would try to be more expansive, and this was when he relinquished possession; on one occasion with a cross-field pass intended for Antonio Valencia, another with a searching ball from deep towards Welbeck, and another over the top towards Mata.

He had one shot on goal, somehow wriggling away from four defenders in a square around him to shift the ball on to his right foot, turn and fire in an effort, only for it to fly over the bar.

Off the ball his pressing was not exactly enthusiastic, but he did try to cut off options for the Inter defenders by drifting into their passing channels. When his team-mates won the ball back in midfield he would come to life and make a forward run, as he did when Ander Herrera regained possession, but elected to shoot from near the half-way line.

Likewise, when the United widemen or midfielders approached the final third, Rooney would dart towards the area or move quickly to provide an option, depending on the location of the ball.

All in all, not as explosive a display as he has enjoyed so far for his club this summer, but better than what he managed with his country at the World Cup.


For years now there has been a debate over where Rooney is best deployed. His versatility is a weapon to some, a hindrance to others.

His most clinical season coincided with a prolonged run up front during the 2009-10 season, before a foot injury curtailed his season and would eventually play a part in a disastrous World Cup.

Since then he has been moved around, often as a No.10, often as a wideman in a 4-3-3. He took umbrage to playing second fiddle to Robin van Persie in Sir Alex Ferguson's final season, but was restored as the main man under David Moyes in the previous campaign.

With Louis van Gaal having arrived, it seems he will favour his countryman Van Persie for the United captaincy, but thanks to his 3-5-2 formation the two of them look destined to play up front.

"Rooney can play at 10 and nine," the boss has said. "He said to me he can also play seven and 11. But I like him more at nine or 10."

So no more time spent on the wings, then. Especially when the wide men in this system are wing-backs, charged with covering an awful lot of ground going both forwards and backwards.

With Juan Mata, the club's record signing, likely to take the No.10 role, it would appear Rooney is set for his favoured position up front - even if he does not get the armband.


What people forgot in the build-up to the World Cup, and certainly after it, was that Rooney actually played quite well for Manchester United last season, and was certainly one of the only players to come out of Moyes's brief reign with any credit.

At the age of 28, he should, technically, be heading into his peak years now, but he has some way to go to prove that his best days aren't behind him. The club obviously don't think they are, seeing as they signed him up to a long-term, £300,000-per-week contract in February.

So the heat is on, and with him restored to a striking role, the expectation should really be at least 20 Premier League goals and a fine partnership with Van Persie. With the two players earning over £2m per month between them, and with the squad set up to maximise their potential, they really should rediscover the form that secured the club's 20th league title in 2012-13.

Rooney has not scored more than 20 league goals since 2011-12, when he got 27, so it is high time he laced up his scoring boots and found some consistency in front of goal.

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