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Replace Rooney with a team, not a player
One of the main defenses I have seen of Rooney this season is that there is no direct replacement for him. And that is probably true, United would be hard pressed to replace a player of his stature and (former) ability in the current market. The likes of Agureo and Lewandowski are not going to move there. Higuain is probably more of a temporary fix than a long term solution. The issue is that people are ignoring the replacement that is already there.
No, not Martial (not yet anyway) but you replace Rooney with a fully functioning team rather than ten men lumbered with an immobile focal point. Put Martial in as centre forward. Your midfield base is two out of Schwienstiger, Schniderlin, Blind and Carrick. Behind a committed, mobile centre forward with an actual first touch, any three out of Herrera, Mata, Depay, Young and Fellaini. You could add Januzaj to the list next season.
You get a team with more guile, movement, invention. You get a team of 11 instead of 10+1. You get a collective that is better than the current collective. That is your replacement. Maybe Martial can become the proper focal point of the team. Maybe not. But the main point is that, at the moment, he is a damn sight better than Rooney.
Kev (Even Rooney must be hankering for some MLS by now)
No, replace him with Aubameyang
Dan Wardle: the question of who United replace Rooney with is much more complex than a simple comparison of the hassle of selling him and buying in a narrow talent pool with his current performance levels (which have been laughably poor since 2012, a fair few United fans called Rooney’s decline years ago).
If you want to replace Rooney with a bona fide world class striker, you aren’t replacing like-for-like. Rooney had, at best, two seasons in which he was a genuinely world class striker, and five or six years as a world class attacker, all of which are long gone. There’s certainly a compelling argument that United should move heaven and earth to sign a genuinely elite attacker. Hence why Ed Woodward spends most of every summer sending blank cheques to Munich and Madrid for Muller and Bale.
But United’s acquisition of any player of this calibre is entirely separate from the Rooney situation. United and Woodward want one, for commercial and sporting reasons, and eventually somebody will sell. It might be Bale, it might be Reus, it might be Muller, but it’ll happen irrespective of Rooney.
If United want to replace Rooney with what he’s become, a utility attacker who can be relied for about ten to fifteen goals a season, can play across a front four, and will do a tactical job for his team, there are no shortage of them. Januzaj, Pereira, Lingard et al. are already at the club. Kevin Kampl would a decent shout, albeit with atrocious hair, and most CL level clubs have at least one such player who plays that role. Florenzi at Roma can do that job, and play at right back too.
If United want a versatile attacker who would add a meaningful goal threat and isn’t a youth project, they could always look at Aubemayang. 20 odd goals already this season, can play across a front three, terrifying pace, mid-20s, and has the ego and arrogance to lead the line at United. Might be expensive, but the saving on Rooney’s ludicrous wages would help.United, at the club and on loan, currently have a young, talented, quick and versatile battery of attackers. Memphis, Martial, Januzaj, Wilson, Lingard, and Pereira, with Mata, Herrera and Young, are as exciting as anything at Old Trafford since 2007. Given the time and space to develop without having to accommodate a slow, technically limited has-been in attack, they might become something very special. RvN was sacrificed for Rooney and Ronaldo, I would suggest it’s now Rooney’s turn.
There is absolutely nothing to fear from a post-Rooney world. He has long since exhausted any patience he was due, and should have been moved on years ago. LvG could United a massive favour by putting a bullet in his career at the club this summer.
GNev and Rooney
Something I would like to address regarding G Nev and his lack of criticism of Wayne Rooney. He is still Rooney’s coach with the national team, a position he seems to value highly. Rooney is currently an England player so I don’t see how Neville could tear strips off him in commentary and then go try and coach him a few weeks later. I understand that this is a conflict of interest but I’m sure that was discussed with Sky when he took the job. I don’t think Neville can be 100% honest in his assessment of any current England player because of his role with the National side. I have never heard Neville properly criticise a current England player (happy to be corrected if he has). It’s a shame really because I would love to see him do a piece on Rooney’s declining performance standards but I don’t see that happening as long as Neville still works with him.
I also fully agree that Rooney has been rubbish for a while now and deserves every bit of criticism he gets. That’s just how it is when you are paid that kind of money and performing as he has been.
It’s never a good idea to publicly criticise your current colleagues, I’m sure Neville learned that from Roy Keane.
Dan, Ireland MUFC
Dat Guy (S)
Harry the Manc needs no defence from me, since he clearly sits on the side of ‘facts’, ‘evidence’, ‘logic’ and alongside the likes of previously-acclaimed-but-now-dismissed-because-they-disagree-with-your-n*rrative Neville. That he made some strong arguments is discounted because he had the audacity to call out a distant fan for some daft comments.
But it’s fascinating psychology to see the plot twist that “Mata and Herrera can’t do much if Rooney isn’t able to run the channels to give them options to pass to” as a retort. Funny that this wasn’t the case against Everton a couple of weeks back. Hmm… what could have changed.
I wonder if – just possibly – it was the increased standard of the (6 man) defence that Rooney was facing (and keeping on their toes)?
Had Lingard not got in Rooney’s way with his crossbar grazing effort, had Martial picked up Rooney’s reverse pass, had the ball been delivered in to Rooney rather than the near post after he’d spread the ball out wide, had we had the penalty that Sterling should have conceded, this anti-Rooney n*rrative would have been on hold for another week again.
But close tight games can happen when both sides set up with 6 man defences and one striker. Apparently though, that’s all Rooney’s fault. Damn him and his huge wages.
Have to have a word on this famous transfer request that many United fans use to bash Wayne Rooney.
Firstly, remember the situation – we’d just sold Ronaldo, lost Tevez having messed around, and signed Obertan and Michael Owen on a free as their replacements. We had a season where Rooney led from the front banging in goals left right and centre, and he questioned the ambition of the club. Basically he was repeating what every single fan was saying at the time. We were feeling the full force of Glazernomics and things looked pretty dire. With hindsight, we still had Fergie, so he managed to continue working miracles for the next few years. That is with hindsight.
Secondly I would like to mention a few things which are worse than (or at least on a par with) handing in a transfer request and subsequently changing your mind:
- Ronaldo agreed with the President of FIFA that Manchester United Football Club were “treating him like a slave” by forcing him to honour his contract and actually play football for us. A SLAVE!
- Eric Cantona left the country and said he was never coming back – Fergie had to follow him to go to France and beg for him to play for us again
- Paul Scholes refused to play for us. Refusing to play is up there with the cardinal sins of football
- George Best has a statue outside OT – however he had also reached a difficult situation with the club. Had reached the point of seeking a transfer? “Yes, I’m sick enough to ask for a move, I’ve got nothing against the management. It’s the team. It’s just not good enough. It’s just not going anywhere. I could go right through the team and find things wrong. People knock me when I’m not doing it, but when I’m not doing it who is?”. Sound familiar?
- David De Gea was pen in hand ready to actually sign for another club, having run down his contract.
- Countless examples of players trying to maximise their income from the club, which Rooney also did (Rio, Keane, etc).
Anyway, beat him with a stick for playing badly, but people seriously need to move on from the “transfer request”. It’s rather pathetic. What a player contributes to a club during their career is always more important than anything that happens off the field.
Brian D. (P.s. I agree it’s time to drop Rooney for a few games and make him fight for his place again)
Mourinho is not the problem
Hi F365 –
I wrote in at the start of the season expressing my concern about the way the season was shaping up at the Bridge and as a Chelsea fan I am, sadly, not surprised. I did want to offer a slightly different perspective however on the problems at the club – I don’t actually think that Mourinho is part of the problem and nor do I think he is trying to get himself sacked. First up though, let me just state that I am not a Mourinho apologist – the man got it wrong with his treatment of Carneiro and the medical staff and has on occasions this season made statements that sound paranoid at best. However, while he has contributed to the issues this season, it is clear to me that he is not the cause of the of the problem, he is merely failing to solve it.
The cause of the problem is, very simply, the players. Take a really critical look at the squad and, pretty much across the board, there has been a 10% drop off in performances in all, bar maybe 1 or two players. But allow me to group them into the following categories :
Elite level players performing at their level : None
Elite level players underperforming : Hazard, Fabregas
Top level players performing at their level : Willian, Pedro (arguably), Azpilicueta
Top level players underperforming : Matic, Ivanovic, Oscar, Costa
Squad players performing at their level :Loftus-Cheek, Begovic
Squad players underperforming :Cahill, Zouma, Ramires, Mikel, Remy, Falcao, Terry
Others, not enough game time : Courtois, Traore, Rahman
At the start of the season the message from Mourinho was clear : the same players would all need to improve if they wanted to retain the title – he made this abundantly clear to through the media bright and early. The squad was not significantly invested in and he recognised that more would need to come from the players to be able make a similar impact on the league as last year. Unfortunately, for whatever the reason, this message was not understood by the players and it was very much a case of “standing still is essentially going backwards”.
The problem was caused by a) the players dropping off their performance and b) a real lack of appropriate investment in the team over the summer in 2 problem areas (centre back and centre midfield).
This problem has been caused by the players and the director of football and Mourinho is the one struggling to pick up the pieces and solve it. Unfortunately for him, as each week passes it looks more and more like he is not the man who can do this. It is a shame as, like him or not, his record as a winner is untouchable.
But he’s Big Sam with a budget
I have to laugh when I read mails like this morning’s offering from Ahsan, AFC. Some people really are salves to hype. “Mourinho is a genius”, he’s the “special one” – this is the kind of shite that the press were happy for years to pump out to sell newspapers.
Let’s look at his career a little more critically, shall we?
Porto, Chelsea (first time around) Inter & Madrid. Notice a common theme there… they were all the biggest spenders in their respective leagues. The biggest spenders, with the biggest budgets, paying the biggest salaries. Everything was skewed for their success and not winning the league with any of them is a sackable offence.
However there is more to the Mourinho magic. Not satisfied with every financial advantage, Mourinho also insists on referee baiting, cheating, time wasting, eye gauging, siege mentality etc…basically every possible variable also being skewed towards him and his team.
With absolutely everything in his favour, then he will deliver leagues playing defensive, dour, negative football.
Yep, he won Champions Leagues with both Porto and Inter. Porto had an easy run of oppenents (Monaco in the final???) and Inter won by replicating Greece 2004 Euros winning tactics.
So brainwashed are people that even when his reputation is being shattered as it currently is and he’s being exposed as the charlatan that he is, people assume it must be part of his own grand plans as opposed to being discovered for what he actually is…Fat Sam with a bigger budget and better PR team.
Lamela a rip-off or a good buy?
With Spurs playing quite well at the moment, I keep hearing commentators, pundits and the like saying things like “Lamela is beginning to repay his transfer fee”. Here is a list of the prices of attacking players who regularly start and have been signed within roughly the last 3 seasons for the big six this season;
Man City- De Bruyne- £55mil, Sterling- £49mil, Bony- £28mil
Arsenal- Ozil- £42.5mil, Sanchez- £35mil
Man Utd- Mata- £37.1mil, Martial- £36mil, Depay- £25mil
Chelsea- Hazard- £32mil, Costa- £32mil, Willian- £30mil, Pedro- £21.4mil
Liverpool- Benteke- £32.5mil, Firminio- £29mil
Spurs- Lamela- £30mil, Son- £22mil
I suppose you can look at this two ways; compare Lamela to a number of the other players and say he’s not as good and conclude that he is over priced.
Or, conclude that if you want a player who is good enough to play week in week out for a top 4 challenger, even if the player is not a superstar performer but is not a young prospect you are developing, you have to pay £30 million for them. Spurs paid about market value and got about market value.
Wondering what other mailboxers think? Is Lamela is a rip off? A good buy? or just about what you expect for £30 million these days.
Also, looking through these transfers made me think that the following are all relative bargains; Rooney- £25mil, Eriksen £11mil, Coutinho £8.5mil, Walcott £12.5mil, Ramsey 5mil, even Giroud at £12.5mil.
Joel (running the numbers) Nottingham
I’m sure that the mailbox will be packed full of fans celebrating or panicking about the FA Cup 1st round draw last night (sorry, I mean the Emirates FA Cup, other cup competitions are available). For my lot there is a worrying feeling of déjà vu, drawn away from home to the lowest ranked team in the draw, hopefully this time all the media focus will be on FC United and Salford City, meaning we can carry on with the job of winning a football match without a media narrative following us around for the next 10 days.
This draw did however bring to light the reason for me writing this mail, which is that Didcot is perhaps the rap centre of the UK. Don’t believe me? Just check out the directions on how to get there, driving north:
Straight Outta Compton, 8 Mile.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (unable to claim this as original comedy, entirely willing to plagiarise in the interest of publication.)
Oh Stead you cheeky little so and so!!!
“In a season marred by controversy and mired in defeat, Willian has emerged as the one bright spark for Chelsea. The Brazilian is their top goal scorer in all competitions, barely holding off young Own Goals (three).”
Posab, (Is young Own Goals the next Shearer?) Botswana