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Rooney has endured a season lurking in the shadows so far owing to Van Persie's arrival and his own injury woes but his form of late suggests that he will be key in the run-in.

In the last round of fixtures in the English Premier League, Manchester United defeated Fulham 1-0, courtesy of an authoritative and influential performance by their talisman Wayne Rooney.

After an obscure power-cut weltered the game into uncondensed darkness just before the end of the first-half, the England international produced the required fireworks later on as he lit up the Craven Cottage with a well-taken strike in the 79th minute.

Latching onto a long ball from defender Jonny Evans, Rooney capitalized on a mistake by Philippe Senderos before dispatching an inch-perfect shot into the far corner. The goal put an ideal and exquisite complimentary touch to Rooney’s performance on the night. The Englishman ran the show with sheer understated excellence, forming the chain between the midfield and attack, regularly floating between the lines in order to disorganize the Cottager’s playing set-up and always fulfilling his crucial defensive commitments.



Crucial winner against Fulham

While the plaudits have been raining down on Robin van Persie’s mercurial scoring record since switching allegiance to the red side of Manchester, the usually over-hyping English media have failed to acknowledge Rooney’s breath-taking return of 10 goals in as many appearances, including five strikes in the last three games.
 
Since returning from his short injury-setback and subsequent compassionate leave due to the death of the his sister-in-law, Rooney has looked relatively sharper and more dynamic in the Number 10 role he has been forced to take up since the arrival of van Persie.

Rooney’s vision and passing skills have been more varied and the 27-year-old is also reaching full-fitness, a trait that has allowed him to now keep the same intensity and commitment throughout the ninety-odd minutes.

Moreover, Rooney has finally integrated the art of both orchestrating the play as well as scoring the goals for the team from a relatively deeper role with his exploits against the likes of Fulham and Southampton over the past two weeks being a testament to that claim.


He's been a team-player

And hence, although many pundits criticized the lad for ‘losing’ his midas finishing touch since playing as the team’s Number 10, any such arguments can now be put to bed. Even more encouraging is the former Merseyside youngster’s ever-improving partnership with van Persie, which is showing promising signs for the Red Devils.

Despite getting limited opportunities and time to play and start together, the two have already developed a phenomenal understanding and with Rooney’s pin-point vision facilitating the Flying Dutchman’s excellent finishing, the duo arguably form the most destructive strike-force in European football right now.
 
With Everton making a trip to the Old Trafford next week and the two-legged Champions League clash with Spanish champions Real Madrid looming large on the horizon, this co-relation between van Persie and Rooney could prove out to be of immense importance in shaping the destiny of United’s season, with the latter’s contributions perhaps even more determining.

Rooney’s presence elevates United’s display to a completely different level and with Manchester City dropping points at home to Liverpool on Sunday, England international’s isolated strike against Fulham could prove to be a defining moment of the Red Devils' domestic term as it has helped extend their lead to nine points at the top of the table.

As astonishing as van Persie’s statistics might be and the former Arsenal captain may garner all the headlines with his breath-taking poaching skills, Rooney is the backstage magician who keeps things ticking along with unappreciated efficiency. His selflessness might cost him personal accolades, but he will do whatever it takes for United to succeed as a team.


Giggs recognizes Rooney's value

Even the evergreen Ryan Giggs gives a similar opinion about the player: “Wayne is the kind of player who can score goals, but if someone is scoring more he’s not too bothered. He’s quite happy setting goals up and pitching in with important goals like he did on Sunday.

“It’s like when Cristiano was here, he scored a lot of goals. It’s similar with Wayne, he’s not just an out-and-out goal scorer. He’s more than that. He’s the catalyst to everything good that we do.”

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