Today’s idea: Wayne Rooney at right-back

Date published: Wednesday 21st September 2016 3:02

It’s a slow day for mails. Please watch football on Wednesday night and send some mails to


Pep would have ousted Rooney
I’m not going to lie I was half expecting Pep to come to United instead of City, I mean what manager wouldn’t have wanted to at the time. A great youth system coming through, terrible results proving a challenge to another top manager (LVG), a budget meaning he can bring in any player under the sun, one of the biggest teams in the world (sorry City it’s true) and on and on.

Also it would seem ridiculously stupid if United didn’t contact Pep when looking for a new manager (unless they missed their chance). Seemed like the right thing to do…right? I think I have the reason why he didn’t come to United in the end and I reckon the reason being Rooney.

The first thing Pep did at City was to take the average age from 27 to 23 (I think I remember reading) and did so by removing core City players in Toure, Hart, Kompany etc. This is an incredible feat to complete. If Pep came to United and mentioned this one of the first names on that list would have been Rooney, based on recent performance and age he would never have made the cull along with other players. But we all know by now that Rooney is undroppable no matter the manager, surely Rooney performances would mean LVG would drop him (he was strict as F**K) and Mou will drop and do anything just to win the league.

If it’s true and Rooney has in his contract that he is undroppable, then Pep would have seen that and just walked out of Old Trafford and then probably just went knocking at the Eithad asking if a job’s open with a response of “when can you start?”.

If this is true (probably not clutching at straws or whatever) then Rooney isn’t just destroying the team on the pitch but also destroying the chances of United growing any further. The annoying thing is the more I think about this contract of Rooney’s the more I think it must be true…there is literally no other reason as to why he is even in the United squad.

To be honest I’m not Mou’s biggest fan and I am still p***ed at how LVG was treated, I think his last season. I do believe that given one more year and less injures LVG could have pushed for a title challenge this season. Last season is proving to be more and more of an anomaly as the games go on (sorry Leicester, Southampton, West Ham and other top performers from last season).
Stoky Boy – (MUFC/CCFC) Odds for Noverhampton to win?


Where Rooney fits (right-back, by the way)
Steve yesterday asked where to fit Rooney and I hope I’m not too late to take a stab, too (this isn’t just a stab, it’s a stick-and-twist kinda email):

Rooney is nowhere near as physically dominant as Ibra (who, by the way, has wasted chances but been really quite good up front so far) nor as quick as Rashford or Martial to lead the line so striker is not an option. He’s also, dare I say, not as clinical as those three are (or could be one day) anymore and so would be holding the team back, big time, if named as striker.

Out wide is where most people named Rooney yesterday. Yet, I’d argue that Lingard, Martial, Mikhy, Memphis and Young are all more deserving of the spot. All those players either need to start to be able to provide the pace the team needs or to play themselves back into form. Regardless, Rooney’s crossing has been heralded this season as his saving grace and even then, I’d rather hope all those aforementioned players can be coached how to cross better.

That brings us to attacking midfield, where too Rooney is almost at risk of being squeezed out for varying reasons. Number 10/attacking midfield is the role Jose gives to Rooney yet the Englishman’s average position seems deeper that his defensive midfielders, because he’s too old/slow to recover for the counter so he starts from deep. Which makes me think that all the other hopeful number 10s (Mata, Herrera, Mikhy, Lingard, even Memphis) might as well get a shot so they can inject some pace and panache into the space Rooney so happily vacates.

That covers all the positions Mourinho has said he’d play Rooney in…which allows me to plug my mail from yesterday about Mourinho’s ego talking him into a corner. There was no reason to claim that Rooney MUST play an attacking role other than to set himself apart from Van Gaal. ‘Oh is that how Louie used him? Meh f*ck that’. Surely Mourinho had been watching Rooney’s legs going for the last few seasons?

And thus, the defensive/deep midfield roles where, let’s be honest, Rooney is also not the best option anywhere. Herrera, Pogba, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Fellaini and Fosu-Mensah are all more deserving and competent of the positions and it is in the players’ individual and team’s best interest that one of that group of natural midfielders play as opposed to Rooney (again: all this is being said ignoring Basti… More about egos and talking and corners).

I’ve written into the mailbox before arguing in favor of the inclusion of Rooney in the team due to his being some sort of ‘glue’ to the team. His off-ball abilities (his organization of the players around him; his vision and tendency to shift the ball up the field; his physical strength and his willingness, if not ability, to run; his reading of the game ahead of him) are better than his on-ball abilities. For that reason, he merits an inclusion (other than his contract, ofc). Let’s now try to use that strength and stick him into the one position that may still be up for grabs: right-back.

Matteo Darmian is apparently not in favor…Fosu-Mensah is naturally a central player, perhaps even a midfielder…Phil Jones is broken…If Antonio Valencia can be taught to how to tackle out wide and hold his position, then so can Wayne Rooney. I love Tony V, but Wayne Rooney at right-back would be the ultimate experiment. It may work too (for as long as we have DDG keeping goal).

Wayne Rooney can cross, shot from distance once out of ten attempts and still be in position to organize his defensive midfielders (like a general for Mourinho). He’ll be a goal threat from deep and perhaps even be strong enough in the tackle to force a few primmadonnas to think twice before attempting to nutmeg him. United’s every attack won’t have to depend on Wayne having to sprint or think/react quickly yet Wayne will be able to read the attacking situation from far, be far enough to think about what he wants to do and then try and influence the attack. Sounds like a modern attacking full-back, just without the pace.

Hopefully he can be taught how to stay in position well enough and tackle well enough to not get skinned for pace every time. Maybe Schneiderlin, Pogba and Herrera/Fellaini can form the best midfield partnership in European football in three years, with their strongest asset being how well they screen their defenders. This, trebled with the hope that Smalling and Bailly also emerge as the best center-back partnership in England in three years, and maybe Wayne Rooney’s occasional defensive liability can be laughed at. He might never be great defensively (just needs to do what Tony V is doing now, which can’t be too hard) yet he may be contributing five goals and five assists every season (corners, set plays, odd cross/shot) consistently from right-back for the next 2-3 seasons.

It’s a project and a half but right-back is my pick for Wayne Rooney’s position. I hope it happens, because the consequential chain of events is maddening regardless of it being a successful or disastrous result. At best, Rooney reinvents himself as a right-back, becomes an icon and confirms his position as Mr. United till he retires as age 35, with another 30 goals+assists to his name and a handful of more red cards and pants-down moments. His efforts in what would (hopefully) be a potentially world-class team would see him pick up a few more medals/trophies along that way too. At worst, Rooney leaves in January or June after playing badly and then not being able to take the humiliation of having to play (and fail at) as a right-sided defender. Either way sounds like great entertainment to me.
Emad MUFC Boston
Ps: Jose, if you’re reading, I don’t think your egotistical rant against Van Gaal from earlier this summer has, as yet, denied you the opportunity to make this change: you said he won’t ‘play as a 6 or 8’ but you said nothing about the 2, did you?


Why Giggs would have been a terrible idea
Andreas, (I know Zidane has more experience, but first team is a different thing!), Brussels could Giggs have been a success as Man United manager, and the answer is yes, he could have been. But at the same time it’s possible I could have been a success as Man United manager if given the chance.

However my managerial history rules me out of contention, just like Giggs’ does. He has managed four games in his managerial career. Not just senior games, any games. He wasn’t in charge of the U19s or U21s at any stage. He has never built a team. He managed United for the last four games of a disastrous season and he not only hired his mates to help him do that but confessed to not being able to sleep because of the pressure of it. Nicky Butt has a better managerial career than Giggs but no one is clamouring for him to be considered (although as Head of Youth Development, he should be considered next time).

Zidane had some managerial experience before being given the top job. He was manager of Castilla for two seasons, in the Spanish third tier. He had his own squad, he ran the training, he picked the tactics. This is on top of him working with Mourinho and Ancelotti with the Real Madrid squad. Now ordinarily is that the CV of a man who gets the Real Madrid job? No, his history with the club clearly helped, but at least he had some experience.

I, and many other Man United fans, felt that although it would be nice to see Giggs get the job he should prove he is ready for it (I know he worked under Fergie, Moyes, and LVG). He should have left and gotten a manager’s job elsewhere and shown the United board that he deserves it. How many other former players were tipped to take over from Fergie: Hughes, Keane, Solskjaer, Bruce, but failed to prove it when given the chance? At one stage it was said Bryan Robson would make a great manager.

It may also be telling that even though three new managerial jobs became available between the Premier League and Championship since he left United (and he was linked to all three), that he didn’t get any of them. If Wolves in the Championship aren’t willing to take a risk on Giggs, why would a club who expect to be challenging for the Premier League? Maybe he didn’t show them how he would take the team forward?
Jerry MUFC
Life would have been very different
In reply to Andreas, I don’t know if Giggs would have been a success, but it would have been fundamentally different with different challenges. Having been involved with the squad he would have a struggle to drop particular players. But to flip that, he already knows the squad inside and out, and more importantly what they’re capable of. As a result we’d already be through the testing phase.

Chances are he’d have been relying on some of the old guard (including Carrick, and probably Schweinsteiger) to blood the new guard and that would have made things quite likely better. I also think there’d be less ego about trying to coach players to new positions (Blind, Valencia, Young, Rooney, Martial, Mata, Fellaini) or bring bad blood (Schweinsteiger and Mata in particular) and bad attitudes about public blame into the squad.

He’d also be giving more of a chance to youth who know how to play ‘our way’ (ie. the way the coaches have been training our players from youth to senior squad for decades). For better or worse, it’s also pretty likely he wouldn’t have bought Ibrahimovic, Mhkitaryan or Pogba as he would have instead trusted Rashford, Martial, Lingard, Young, Januzaj and Perreira.

It’s also a guarantee that we’d be playing the way he knew how and way we were familiar with…4-4-2 attacking, with width.

Jose will get things back on track I’m sure, but it will never be the same again, and none of Sir Alex’s player legacy will remain when he’s done.
Guy S (talk of Beckham makes me realise how bad we are now)


This Liverpool is confusing
Have to agree completely with Abhinav, LFC, Chicago from this morning’s mailbox. As a United fan, this Liverpool team is confusing the hell out of me.

Can’t say there’s a player I dislike, the manager seems like he knows what he’s doing and does it in a way that is likable, with the likes of Gerrard, Carragher and Neville out of the way the derbies don’t seem as intense and next year could actually be their year.

Being a United fan has been confusing enough post Fergie without this, please stop it and let’s get back to normal.
Andy Race, St. Lucia (Bolton really, but the mailbox seems so cosmopolitan these days)


Man Utd transfer policy for decades:

Have tricky fixture coming up…

Newspaper story that Man Utd might bid on one of opponent’s key players who might have his head turned by speculation…

Two outcomes:

1. Player bottles it, Utd get result
2. Player has a blinder, speculation continues.

Man Utd v Leicester this weekend…Glad I’m not clicking on any possibly nonsense articles regarding transfers. Wonder if anyone did?
Eddie, ‘Pretty Vacant’ MUFC


Favourite (not quite) assist
Technically not an assist as the goal was disallowed, but this always makes me laugh (especially Ronaldo’s reaction!):

Colm, London
Here’s an assist…
Kaka to Crespo in Istanbul, splitting a defence better than anyone!

Niki Sorabjee

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