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Player Focus: Wayne Rooney isn't United's Midfield Answer

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Player Focus: Wayne Rooney isn't United's Midfield Answer

 

It was somewhat apt that Manchester United landed their 20th top-flight title in their illustrious history courtesy of a Robin van Persie hat trick, with the Dutchman assigned the number 20 following his arrival from Arsenal over the summer.

 

His 33 minute first half triple salvo gave United the three points needed to secure the Premier League title, after rivals Manchester City fell to a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, in a performance where the 29-year-old attained a perfect 10 in his WhoScored rating, with all three of his shots on target finding a way past Aston Villa's Brad Guzan.

 

However, the talking point once again proved to be Wayne Rooney's inclusion in the starting XI, dropping deeper than his usual striker role to receive the ball in the middle of the park. Much was made of the future of the England international back in March when he was relegated to the bench for the Champions League second leg last 16 tie with Real Madrid.

 

Nevertheless, an uninspiring cameo appearance in the 2-1 defeat following Nani's controversial red card reinforced Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to not begin Rooney from the off in the encounter, while the veteran Scot was quick to allay fears that the former Everton trainee was set to depart before the striker started the 2-2 FA Cup draw with Chelsea five days later, a game in which he netted the second goal of the game.

 

Yet, the doubters circulating Rooney remain prominent. The 27-year-old has endured his fair share of criticisms over recent months following an underperforming spell of form over the festive period, not to mention reports that he returned from the summer for pre-season out of shape and overweight.

 

Furthermore, the speculation surrounding his future upon the arrival of Van Persie would likely have unsettled him, but to his credit, Rooney hasn't allowed the rumours to affect his performances having currently registered 12 goals and 10 assists in 25 Premier League appearances.

 

Following the arrival of van Persie and Shinji Kagawa from Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund, respectively, last summer however, many were pondering where the Croxteth born frontman would fit into Ferguson's starting XI.

 

As such, it has seen Rooney redevelop his game in order to accommodate his dogged and energetic approach to football, with Ferguson utilising those facets of his game in the middle of the park, most recently in the respective victories over Stoke City and Aston Villa.

 

It was against the Potters that saw the striker drop deeper in order to focus his creative talents in the middle of the pitch, while his tenacity was channeled to ensure the impact of Charlie Adam, Steven N'Zonzi and Glenn Whelan was limited.

 

Their input being lowered was supposed to see Rooney thrive in the role. With Michael Carrick shielding the defence, the pair formed an effective partnership that saw the former handed a license to push forward and support the attack, with his energy meaning he was able to return to his position alongside his compatriot as and when Stoke looked to attack the recently crowned Premier League champions.

 

Player Focus: Wayne Rooney isn't United's Midfield Answer

 

With it, the England man made 37 accurate forward passes over the 90 minutes, the second highest of the encounter behind Whelan (38) and the highest of any United player, with Carrick making one less forward pass (36) that found a teammate, made all the more impressive considering the fourth highest figure on the list was Kagawa, who made 24 accurate forward passes.

 

In the same game, Rooney also made the joint highest key passes for United, along with Van Persie (2), although that figure was bettered by Stoke's Adam, Whelan and Ryan Shotton, all of whom made three in the April game at the Britannia Stadium.

 

However, this points towards the defensive deficiencies that United possessed with both Rooney and Carrick in midfield. They allowed Whelan to make the most forward accurate passes and also two of the three players they were charged with containing to make three key passes apiece.

 

On top of that, both Rooney and Carrick saw their passing accuracy reach a high of just 82% and 86%, respectively, in comparison to Whelan and N'Zonzi, both of whom attainted respective figures of 95% and 87%.

 

The figure for Rooney is particularly disappointing for a player who is aiming to reinvent himself as a midfielder, especially when compared to the number of accurate passes he has made this season. Over the 25 appearances he has made for United this year, the England international has found a teammate just 981 times.

 

This pales into insignificance when compared to Carrick and Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, both of whom are leading the way in terms of passing accuracy, with the duo having completed 2236 and 2353 passes, although the pair have made more appearances - 33 and 30, respectively - than Rooney this season.

 

The United man was also widely praised for his impact during the 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Monday, which confirmed the Manchester side as Premier League champions. Rooney provided the cross field pass for Antonio Valencia which led to van Persie's opener before his perfectly weighted ball to the Dutchman to add his second.

 

The two passes glossed over a somewhat disappointing opening 45 minutes for Rooney, especially when taking into consideration his passing accuracy for the half. While his teammates found a United player with at least 90% of their passes - Carrick scoring the lowest of the quintet in the middle of the park with 91% - the striker could only muster a 79% pass accuracy, and while this rose to 86% by the time he exited the field of play in the 72nd minute, it was another underwhelming figure for the player.

 

That completion rate also appears that much worse when you consider he made the second highest inaccurate passes during the Old Trafford fixture for United midfielders (9), despite being withdrawn at the expense of Danny Welbeck with 18 minutes of normal time remaining.

 

When compared to his accurate passes, the 54 he completed ranks him as the second highest midfielder, unsurprisingly behind Carrick on 85. With the former Tottenham Hotspur man playing the full 90 minutes on the pitch, it saw Rooney complete an accurate pass every 1.33 minutes on the pitch, which was still a far cry from Carrick's 1.05 minutes per accurate pass.

 

While Rooney earned his fair share of the plaudits for his play in the build up for the first and second goal during the win over Aston Villa, the fact is his stats weren't good enough for a player that is hoping to drop deeper and occupy a role in the midfield. He has the tenacity and energy to succeed in the role if need be, but his pass completion suggests he is merely a temporary solution to a permanent problem in the United midfield.

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Felihaber Inigo Martínez Stefan Kiessling Papiss Demba Cisse Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa Jack McInerney Magnus Eikrem Nir Biton Hiroshi Kiyotake Antonio Candreva Diego Milito Benjamin Stambouli Iago Aspas Fernandao Ederson Maxi Biancucchi Deivid Gonzalo Rodríguez André-Pierre Gignac Matt Jarvis Carlos Martinez Ezequiel Lavezzi Diego Sercan Sararer Dani Hernandez Fábio Coentrão Alex McCarthy Leon Balogun Paul Baysse Vitória Matthew Lowton Pablo Zabaleta Paul Scholes Simon Pouplin Daniel Carvajal Chico Stefan Savic Maarten Stekelenburg Ruben Castro Imanol Agirretxe Arouna Kone Antolin Alcaraz Jonny Evans Nacho Damia Jakub Blaszczykowski Giampaolo Pazzini Adam Le Fondre Michu Victor Valdes Andrés Fernandez Nigel Adkins Mattia De Sciglio Nelson Valdez Cañas Víctor Sánchez Deportivo Mallorca German Denis Giacomo Bonaventura Marco Borriello Jean Beausejour Gary O'Neil Jose Antonio Reyes Thomas Mangani Dorlan Pabon Gabby Agbonlahor Vieirinha Cristian Molinaro Diego Lopez Freiburg Eintracht Frankfurt Raphaël Varane Pedro Mba Obiang Brandao Ilkay Gundogan Bayern Leverkusen Malaga Ilkay Gündoğan Pizzi Riki Jan Mucha Mathis Bolly Maynor Figueroa Craig Gardner Marko Basa Mirko Vucinic Steven Taylor Inigo Martinez Leon Osman Man City Ben Foster Patric Evra Matija Nastasic Javi Garcia Lucas Moura Michel Bastos Roberto Di Matteo John Arne Riise Gareth McAuley Innocent Emeghara Siena Carlos Cuellar Javier Zanetti Michele Canini Zdenek Pospech Sergio Garcia Damien Duff Yoan Gouffran Giuseppe Biava Hilton Nicola Legrottaglie Magno Macedo Novaes Daniel Aranzubia Antonio Conte Andrea Ranocchia per Mertesacker Manucho Leo Nils Petersen Cyril Thereau Adam Szalai Pavel Pogrebnyak Roman Neustadter Daniele Conti Gerhard Tremmel Daniel Agger Kyle Nauhgton Zoltan Gera Brett Holman Adriano Youssuf Mulumbu Premier League. Luis Suarez Federico Peluso Jamel Saihi Gustavo Cabral Wakaso Daniele Gastaldello Danilo David Pizarro loris Nery Hugo Mallo Gotoku Sakai Andre Wisdom Andre Schürrle Mousa Dembélé Hamburger SV Rafael van der Vaart Rene Adler Sean Morrison Juan Jesus Frederik Sorensen Nicolas Isimat-Mirin Joel Matip Barry Bannan Nicky Shorey Luca Cigarini Andrea Consigli Carl Medjani Ricardo Faty Jerome Rothen Takashi Inui Takashi Usami Steven Pienaar Tolgay Arslan Loris Nery Wissam Ben Yeder Angelo Ogbonna Yoann Gouffran Marc Planus Ludovic Obraniak Emanuel Herrera Anthony Mounier Daniel Congre Pablo Hernandez Arda Gueida Fofana Arnold Mvuemba Steed Malbranque Kwadwo Asamoah Christian Maggio Massadio Haidara Jean-Christophe Bahebeck Mladen Petric Real Betis Riccardo Montolivo Lucio Christophe Jallet Gokhan Inler Marvin Martin Steeve Elana Alain Traore Renaud Cohade Geoffrey Dernis Daniel Avles Patrick Helmes Raobin van Persie Pablo Armero Rondon Fabio Borini Patrick Herrmann Jonathan Scmid Kostantinos Fortounis Vincent Pajot Josua Guilavogui Idrissa Gana Gueye Ezequiel Munoz Nene Oliver Sorg Davide Brivio Sebastian Larsson Franceso Totti Tom Trybull M'Baye Niang Jean Daniel Akpa Akpro Matias Silvestre Euro 2012 Olof Mellberg Crisitano Ronaldo Alvaro Arbeloa Sebastian Boenisch Alan Dzagoev Andrey Arshavin Michael Krohn-Dehli Vaclav Pilar Theodor Gebre Selassie Gordon Schildenfeld Greece Miguel Veloso Mark Davies David Hoilett Santiago Garcia Marco Rignoni Vicente Guaita Michael Rensing Paul Robinson Fabien Audard Thomas Vermaelen Younes Belhanda Aurelien Chedjou Nancy St. Etienne Lukas Piszczek Dante Gijon Claudio Pizzaro Racing Santander Jonas Hannover Santander Claudio Pizarro Cesena David Jarolim Joe Cole Moussa Dembele Yakubu Leon Best Benat Kaiserslautern Christian Tiffert Paolo De Ceglie Federico Balzaretti Jeremey Menez Juan MGladbach Andreas Ivanschitz Jires Kembo-Ekoko Guillaume Hoarau Florent Malouda Steve Gohouri Kenwyne Jones Lecce Stephen Ireland Jakub Blaszcykowski Sloan Privat Abraham Guie Guie Louis Saha Martin Harnik German Bundesliga Grant Holt Ali Al-Habsi Ludovic Sane Aldo Angoula Younes Kaboul Brest Marcelo Stiliyan Petrov mathieu Valbuena Tono Ramirez Gianluca Buffon Emile Heskey John Utaka Markus Rosenborg Jonathan Biabiany Andrea Caracciolo Evian Thonon Gaillard Mohammed Abdellaoue Dijon Anton Ferdinand Betting Eric Mouloungui Gregory Pujol Eduardo Ribeiro Sebastien Larsson Nolan Roux Bradley Johnson Jamie O'Hara Wes Brown Jason Lowe Jose Enrique Anders Lindegaard Mark Schwarzer Cheik Tiote Alberto Aquilani Danny Murphy Martin O'Neill Modibo Maiga OGC Nice Perparim Hetemaj Alejandro Faurlin Leon Britton Antonio Nocerino Maximiliano Moralez Claudio Marchisio Marco Rigoni Simone Pepe Heidar Helguson Mark Gower Blackburn Emanuele Calaiò Zlatan Ibrahimović Germán Denis Jose Jurado Nicolas Anelka Edgar Barreto Alexandre Song Shaun Wright-Phillips Nicolas Maurice-Belay Jhon Jairo Culma Kevin Anin Sebastien Corchia Kevin Theophile-Catherine FC Cologne Julien Feret Jaroslav Plasil Yann Jouffre Tomas Rincon Kevin Davies Giampiero Pinzi Tamas Hajnal Camel Meriem Frederic Bulot AS Nancy Gabriel Torje Lynel Kitambala Florent Sinama-Pongolle Idriss Saadi Oscar Trejo Botelho Juanlu Axel Bellinghausen Gonzalo Castro Andrea Cossu Marcel Schafer Marco Hoger Timothy Chandler Bolton Wanderers Ivan Klasnic Paris St Germain Wolverhampton Wanderers Wigan Athletic Javi Varas Blackburn Rovers Stephan Lichtsteiner Anotnio Cassano Nenad Milijas Anatoliy Tymoshchuk Luis Gustavo Ruud van Nistelrooy Benoit Cheyrou Lucho Gonzalez League Analysis Walter Samuel Christian Chivu AS Roma Stephen Warnock Martin Kelly Gary Caldwell Karl Henry Kevin Doyle England National Football Team Javi Venta Vicente Iborra Sergio Ballesteros Bobby Zamora Jonas Gutierrez Dariusz Dudka Youssouf Hadji Christian Abbiati Alvaro Dominguez Phil Neville Senad Lulic Filip Daems Ezequiel Schelotto Victor Ruiz Jonathan Pereira Anthony Reveillere Santiago Gentiletti Cheikh Diabate Nicolas Spolli Luciano Fabian Monzon Mauricio Isla Ignazio Abate Titus Bramble Leroy Lita Christian Lell Philipp Wollscheid Milivoje Novakovic Tottenhman Hotspur Johan Cavalli Eliseu Serdar Tasci Ryan Babel Aleksandar Ignjovski Chechu Dorado Djamel Mesbah Arsenal Swansea Ashely Williams Piscu Eden Dzeko Emmerson Boyce Auxerre Phil Bardsley Jose Bosingwa Gretar Steinsson Mattia Cassani Jonathan Woodgate Germany National Football Team Gasperini Mauro Zarate Diego Forlan Estaban Cambiasso Juraj Kucka Marco Faraoni Joel Obi Benedikt Howedes Clemens Fritz Chris Lowe Daniel van Buyten Albania Yann M’Vila Baptiste Reynet Angelo Palombo Eric Tie Bi Chris Mavinga Aaron Hughes Chris Baird Raul Aly Cissokho Alessandro Del Piero France National Football Team Marc Tierney Bundelsiga Raul Bobadilla Loric Remy Jean Pascal Mignot Mainz 05 Schalke 04 Marcel Risse Steven Reid Danny Gabbidon Michal Kadlec Paulo Machado Ben Watson Spain National Football Team German National Football Team Bundeslgia Ricardo Carvalho Ivan Ramis Diego Colotto Sergio Fernandez Sere A Cesare Bovo Miguel Britos Bostjan Cesar Jose Angel Gabriel Heinze Chris Samba Charles N'Zogbia Yohan Demont Rod Fanni Rudy Mater Georgios Tzavellas Javier Pinola Dennis Aogo Daniel Schwaab Attacking Full-Backs Defensive Wingers 2010/11 Attacking Wingers Nicolas Douchez Under-21 Team of Season 2010-11 Maxi Rodriguez Crossing Wingers Under-21 Team of Season All-Round Midfielders Benoit Pedretti Rising Stars Gaetano D'Agostino Centre Backs Paulo Da Silva Ivan Hernandez Eric Abidal Weligton Borja Ekiza Alassane Toure Stephane Grichting Jordan Loties Kader Mangane Adama Coulibaly Pedro Geromel Neven Subotic Christian Zapata Roger Johnson Stephan Lichsteiner Reto Ziegler David Vaughan Seb Larsson Asamoah Gyan Benoit Pedretti Anthony Mounier Simao Duda Alvaro Cejudo Xabi Prieto Alexsandar Kolarov Guiseppe Mascara Simone Bentivoglio Fernando Marques Gian Piero Gasperin Thomas Hitzlsperger Rafael Van der Vaart Theofanis Gekas Gerard Asamoah Youssef Al Arabi Lisandro Loric Remy Victor Hugo Montano Edison Cavani Sergio Pellissier David Di Michele Steward Downing Spain Under 21 Felipe Caicedo Pierre Webo Youssef El-Arabi Brown Ideye Mobido Maiga Chu-Young Robin Van Persie Kevin Gamerio Udinese. Alexis Sanchez Sami Allagui Frédéric Kanouté Renato Augusto Jonathan Pitropia Eljero Elia Ivo Llicevic Diego Perez Alvaro González Abel Hernandez David VIlla Marcel Schmelzer Danijel Pranjic Holger Badstuber Sven Bender Johan Djourou Darren Fletcher Carlos Kameni Thiago Silve Antonia Di Natale Oliver Baumann Anatoliy Tymoscchuk Christain Fuchs Cristiano Zapata Domenico Criscito Luis Jimenez Josep Ilicic Samuel Eto’o Alexis Thébaux Ludovic Sané Mamouda Sakho Boukary Dramé Daniel Alves Nikolay Mihaylov Charles Puyol Ji-Sung Park Edwin van der Sar Dani Alves John O’Shea Park Ji-Jung Gabi Fernandez Jonathan de Guzman Michael Owen Gary Taylor-Fletcher Ian Evatt DJ Campbell Charles N’Zogbia Wolverhampton Avram Grant Conor Sammon Wayne Bridge Rob Green Victor Obinna Mike Hanke Borussia Munchengladbach VfL Bochum Tomasz Kuszczak Martin Olsson Brett Emerton Steven N’Zonzi Muset Ozil Gianpaolo Pazzini Leonardo Seydou Keita Miguel Pallardo Ibrahim Afellay Valdo Pallardo Damien Perquis Luka Modrid David SIlva Benoit Assou-Ekotto Vedran Corluka Saloman Kalou Clarence Seedorf Matteo Brighi Fabio Simplicio Rodrigo Taddei Mark Van Bommel Gennaro Gattuso Kevin Prince-Boateng Nicolas Burdisso Elkin Soto Pep Gaurdiola Antonio da Silva Robert Mak Anderson. Jack Wilshere Heurelho Gomes Andre Marriner Pinto Alavro Arbeloa Alexander Hleb Messi Ronaldo

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