Getting on in age and losing his turn of pace, Wayne Rooney must now become an impact player off the bench, similar to the role Ryan Giggs played at the end of his career.
Wayne Rooney has been the stalwart of Manchester United’s attacking image for nearly a decade; and now he is at the back end of his career. A deadly striker, amassing 177 goal in 365 games for the Red Devils across all competitions. He will go down as one of the greatest ever Manchester United players, and without a doubt, one of the greatest ever for the English national team.
However, in the last four or so years, there has a distinct shift in Rooney’s role in the team; Used as a winger, central attacking midfielder and at a stretch a central midfielder to accommodate both the newest attacking signings made, as well as to deal with the horror run of key injuries sustained in the period.
These changes has seen Rooney’s stocks slide, both as a viable and consistent attacking threat, and as a needed component to the Manchester United team. Now, whilst this is a big claim to make, and of course Wayne still has much to give, what he can give, is not at the same level that it once was.
Set to undergo yet another ‘rebuild’ under the new coach (Seemingly Jose Mourinho) thought must be given to the role that Rooney will now play. Of course, he can still fetch a sizeable fee on the market with Asian competitions throwing huge money around like its back pocket change, and the MLS becoming an increasingly appealing option, leaving could be an avenue explored. However, another role is perfectly suited for him.
Now 30, Rooney is not the athlete he once was, in fact, over the past few seasons, whispers of weight issues have plagued him, so, with this in mind, he should, put ego aside for the betterment of the team and take on a role similar to that which Ryan Giggs filled at the end of his career; An impact player off the bench.
United has long been seen as the proving ground for the best young English and foreign talent in the world, alongside the likes of Ajax and Southampton. This has been proven with the performances of Adnan Januzaj, Marcus Rashford, James Wilson, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Jesse Lingard, Paddy McNair and Andreas Perreria over the past few seasons. Now, still possessing the attraction of being a big club, the influx of developing youth can be supplemented with the purchasing of established talent, which has been seen more and more in the past two to three seasons.
By moving to an off-the-bench impact role, Rooney can provide in two different ways; allowing the younger talent to get game-time (Rashford, Wilson, Januzaj etc), as well using his goal-scoring nouse in a way which allows him to still contribute, whilst also preserving his career longevity.
He has to realize that he doesn’t have much of a top-flight career left, three or four years tops. He must put the team in a position to be better off once he is gone, and this is the way to do it.