Mails: Can we accept that Rooney’s no good?

Date published: Tuesday 29th March 2016 1:27

The Wayne Rooney debate rages on. Can we accept he is not very good?

Your friend and ours Jeremy Aves is our latest Mailbox guest. He hates the Anfield Rap. Read that, then send your mails to


Here come the ‘Rooney into midfield’ brigade
Oh here they are – it’s the ‘Rooney into midfield’ brigade coming back for more.

United lost 8 out of 8 (or something like that) when he was in midfield last season. It was his dismal midfield performances that had everyone crying from the rooftops that he should be a striker again. That was actually something I agreed with because the one thing you can’t doubt him on is the fact that in an isolated moment he is good at hitting the ball in the back of the net. But his lack of movement, pace, inability to turn a defender or dribble has had people saying he should be a number 10 again.

Can we just accept he isn’t very good? It doesn’t matter what position he is in – he is not the brilliant player of 2004 and nor is he the effective (but still horrible over 90 mins) striker he was in 2010.

Just because he vacates his position to disrupt the balance of the team by dropping to the half-way line to ping (admittedly impressive) 50 yard passes does not mean he is good in central midfield. That position requires a hell of a lot more intelligence and ability than just pinging a pass – as is clearly evident whenever he plays there.

Rooney should be in the squad because he can come on fresh with 20 minutes to go and score a free kick or maybe the ball drops to him in the box where he is usually clinical, but he shouldn’t start the game over actual real strikers, midfielders or wingers who have been playing well and are fit.
Silvio (Even Gam and Guy can’t argue with this, surely?) Dante


Stick Rooney in goal
Following up Peter’s suggestion in the mail box that you could play Rooney in Henderson’s position as Henderson isn’t deemed to do much other than run around, has he considered the other alternate, that you replace the midfielder with, you know, another midfielder?

I mean, if we are crowbarring him into the team, we do have 2 injured keepers now, why not stick him in goal?
Stephen Baines


Rooney: A good player, who had a few great seasons
It’s more than possible that the reason United fans are so much more negative about Rooney than non-United fans is that a greater number of us watch a greater number of his games, and pay more attention to them. And, any intelligent observation of a decent percentage of Rooney’s games during his United career would suggest that his last impressive season was 2011-12, when he played as a genuine striker and approached a goal a game. Even then his overall performances were diminishing, and the key indicators of Rooney actually being in form (first touch, pace and mobility) were flashing red.

The last season in which he played at anything like an elite level was 2010-2011, when he played as the more withdrawn forward with either Hernandez or Berbatov, and pushed 20 goals and 20 assists across the season.

Since then, his pace (and particularly acceleration) has diminished alarmingly, as has his first touch and technique. It says much that, since May 2012, United have signed or introduced into the first team RvP, Welbeck, Falcao, Wilson, Martial and Rashford (notwithstanding experiments with Januzaj and Memphis) as strikers, and Kagawa (sob), Januzaj, Mata, di Maria, Memphis and Lingard as 10s. Even allowing for squad attrition, that’s a huge turnover in elite talent in positions where our Lord and Saviour Wayne Rooney is meant to excel.

Neither Fergie nor van Gaal have felt that Rooney is sufficiently strong to build a team around, and spent extensively (if not particularly successfully) to compensate for this. In a team of United’s quality, even currently much reduced, averaging ten to fifteen goals a season is not exceptional. It’s the bare minimum. Between the amount of possession, quality of service, and sheer number of chances a striker for a top four team receives, scoring fifteen goals a season should be a minimum expectation, and celebrating Rooney for achieving the bare minimum expected of him while being paid at a level equivalent to Ronaldo and Messi is ludicrous.

If his statistical output was allied to a positive contribution to wider team play (as with Totti), Rooney’s output might be justifiable. But as it is the defining achievement of his career has been to have remained sufficiently fit at United to score over 200 goals. Uninspiring consistency is impressive in its own way, but he is not and will never be a great player. He’s a good player who has had a few great seasons, scored a few great goals, and played in Fergie’s last great side.
Chris MUFC


Rooney the captain?
I suspect the argument over whether Rooney will go to the Euros will (if obviously fit enough) circle on his attributes as a captain.

There could be an argument to suggest that the role of a captain doesn’t necessarily mean you are an automatic starter. Maybe in the days when squad depth was shorter, the number of games played in a season much less, and dramatic injuries infrequent, would the captain be a necessary starter. I believe Rooney’s role should be to ensure that the coaching staff are communicating the messages correctly to the squad and helping those with less experience deal with the circumstances of playing in a major international tournament for the first time – which will be a significant number based on recent squad selections. For that, taking Rooney and reminding him of that captain’s role should be guaranteed and so, therefore, should be his ticket.

Not only that, but you give Rooney a purpose to prove himself, I suspect he could be quite a lethal player. Rooney of old, or young (whichever way you look at it), was full of aggression and determination to (I’d conclude) prove that he was one of the best players out there. As time has gone by, it could be concluded that he’s settled into a more tactical mind-set and one for the team. Is there an opportunity to “release the beast” and demand Rooney starts to prove his worth to start, by starting him from the bench?
Phil, London


‘Honourable mentions’ causing a stir
Loved your list of Dutch players to grace your shores.. made me remember what a beast van Nistelrooy was for PSV.

However, I was surprised by your honourable mentions. Sometimes I can’t tell whether Storey is being serious or having a laugh.

I can understand Boateng for the sheer amount of games he played. I condone Van der Vaart because his vision guided Modric and Bale into the Champions League. Ed de Goey.. sure, 6 years at Chelsea, solid keeper.

But where you lost me..

Bouma.. maybe maybe.. but still, 80 games over the span of five seasons.

It get’s worse from there;

– Ron Vlaar.. 80 games, couldn’t finish his last season and didn’t even transfer at the end of the season but became a free agent.
– Ricky van Wolfswinkel.. seriously? 25 games.. 1 (1) goal, relegated to the Championship. Signed for 10m by the way.

These players aren’t even held in high regard in our little cheese eating clog wearing country.
For me, it just seems bloody lazy to name these players on the same page as Bergkamp, Robben, Stam, Van der Sar, Overmars.

Pillars of Dutch football, your honourable mentions do not even deserve to be on the same page.
Stijn (might as well have listed Winston Bogarde) Amsterdam


England have a style to fit the players
One of the things I noticed about the latest England squad was the first time in ages they appeared to have a particular style, system and philosophy that fit the players, and that due to this the squad would appear fairly balanced for the first time in a while because of this.


Gk (fairly basic) choice between Hart and Forster now and whoever will go as 3rd choice

RB – Better going forward than defending, pace covers defensive errors- choice between Clyne and Walker

LB – almost exactly the same as RB but between Rose and Bertrand

CB- Two from Samlling, Cahill, Jagielka, Stones each with their own merits

DCM – The player that will sit and drop in to cover for the attacking fullbacks that offer the width, offering simple balls forward. Dier is far and away best suited to this role but given the dynamics of the squad it would seem that Drinkwater is his replacement.

CM – As the DCM will sit it is the responsibility of this player to press the ball in midfield and harry the opposition. Then on the ball join the attacks where necessary. Basically run around a lot so Henderson or Milner

ACM – Number 10, link midfield and attack, get in the box, cause problems. press the defensive midfielder. Straight shoot out between Alli and Barkley.

ALM- For all intents and purposes a wide forward, an energetic Dirk Kuyt type figure that will run, press, score goals, but offer and outlet and spend more time centrally drifting in- Welbeck or Vardy

ARM- Similar to The left but more of a midfielder than a forward- Lallana or Sterling

ST – Cause problems, Take chances, make space for others with movement – Kane or Sturridge

Now I know that this is flawed especially the ARM role where Lallana and Sterling are different players and DCM where there is literally no replacement for Dier and I do appreciate that I have included Sterling,Bertrand and Hart who are both injured.

However, it does suggest that England may have stumbled across a formation and style that they could take into the tournament. It is essentially a Dutch 433 with a traditional 6, 8 and 10 in midfield but surely it makes sense to take almost like for like replacements to fulfill specific roles?

The issue then arises of other players returning to form and fitness and where to place them ie Wilshere and Rooney, but too often in previous tournaments players have been shoehorned into formations and systems that have benefited one individual or dampened their impact, with managers consistently not having the balls to drop players for the good of the team, or one injury or suspension have involved altering the make up of the team as ‘the next best player’ is accommodated.

Teams are consistently berated for ‘not having a plan B’, yet surely it is far better plan to firstly have a consistent, well rehearsed plan A and negate the need for a hobbled together Plan B


England’s journeymen
It’s interesting that a lot of England’s team that played against Germany weren’t immediate stars or golden boy youth products, they have spent their time in lower divisions, out on loan or at less prestigious clubs learning the game and earning their chances. They looked hungry and selfless. Proper footballers. As a neutral it might actually be possible to like England again… maybe.

(Still only a friendly and I watched Germany play Scotland a few months ago and although it was a more open game, it could easily have been a draw – and Germany had a stronger side out that night. Don’t get too carried away.)
Eddie, ‘Against All Odds*’ MUFC


Feeling hopeful about England…if that’s ok?
​Yes alright, we get it; you send a mail in going on about how England press/fans/etc. tend to get ahead of themselves before a tournament kicks off, and you’re above all this and far too intelligent to get swept up in it, and etc. etc…
Any chance you lot can go and be boring together somewhere else? England looked really good (Nike kit howler aside obviously), beat the world champions away from home, and have a fair few young players looking decent at the minute. I’m going to be optimistic and hopeful about this, if that’s alright, cheers?
Yes, as always in three months we’ll be listening to Chris Waddle going absolutely ​postal about kids’ lack of technique and pelanty shoot outs, but is this really going to hurt less if you’ve spent all that time lining up a massive Told You So?
 Neil Raines


(Ed – Remember to read the latest Mailbox guest. It’s Jeremy Aves on why the Anfield Rap is the single worst recorded single in history.)

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