Updated: Friday, 29th May 2020 @ 6:20am

Time for Roo to go: Wayne Rooney's unfulfilled promise and bad attitude are why Manchester United don't need him

Time for Roo to go: Wayne Rooney's unfulfilled promise and bad attitude are why Manchester United don't need him

Comment by Marios Papaloizou

Four touches of the ball against Arsenal in 2002 were all that was needed to demonstrate the incredible raw talent and audacious temperament of Wayne Rooney.

His spectacular goal against a truly great Arsenal side looked easy.

He created three yards of space with instantaneous control. After stopping the ball dead he took a touch to set up his shot and then hit a technical masterpiece beyond David Seaman.

A new era in English football had dawned.

A spectacular series of performances during Euro 2004 and a hat-trick on his Manchester United debut cemented Rooney’s place as a player with unparalleled potential.

However, nearly a decade later Rooney has left a rather underwhelming mark on world football.

Rooney’s story is one of two distinct styles: a raw and reckless talent that charged at defences and a cerebral footballer capable of incredibly intelligent passing.

The problem with this is that Rooney has sacrificed the former in favour of the latter.

When young players develop their games the ideal scenario is that they retain their initial skillset while adding an array of new abilities to their repertoire.

Rooney joined United at a time when his game was centred on his physical attributes.

He would collect the ball in a deep position, turn, and run at goal.

It wasn’t a sophisticated dribbling style, it was based on raw power and acceleration and it was incredibly effective.

It is extremely rare that one sees Rooney do anything remotely similar to that anymore.

He still collects the ball in similar areas but instead of attacking the defence his role has transformed to distributor.

There are a variety of reasons for this.

Firstly, the tactical development of United as a team that played a fluid 4-3-3 in 2007/08 often meant that Rooney was forced out wide and would also be required to provide for players like Ronaldo and Tevez.

However, the primary reason for this is simple: Rooney does not have the necessary physical attributes to maximize his potential.

It is natural to suggest that with an increase in age comes a decline in physical output; however, at 27, Rooney should be at the peak of his physical development.

When one contrasts Rooney’s development with his former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo one can see how Rooney’s development has followed a lopsided trajectory.

Ronaldo was, like Rooney, a young player with raw potential.

As his time at United progressed Ronaldo developed his already outstanding technique to incredibly high levels.

In conjunction with this development Ronaldo also developed his physical attributes to a level that matched his potential footballing output: he became an athlete in every sense of the word.

In 2006/7 this was demonstrated to devastating effect as a Ronaldo led United to the title.

A season later Ronaldo scored 42 goals as United won the Premier League and Champions League.

His goals were wide ranging during this period and what they show is a development of both his technical and physical attributes.

His flying headed goal against Roma in the Champions League, for instance, was scored because of Ronaldo’s physical domination of the game

His magnificent free-kick against Portsmouth, on the other hand, is a testament to how much work he had put into developing his technique on the training ground.

In 2004, Rooney’s physical attributes arguably exceeded his technical ability.

However, as his technique has become more refined his physical attributes have not only been unable to remain at the same level but have actually deteriorated.

Watching how Rooney won this penalty against France in 2004 with pace, power, and aggression is like watching a completely different player to the Rooney of today

Where Ronaldo is still able to do everything he could do as a youngster and more, Rooney now has a refined style of play but cannot do the things that made him such an exciting prospect in his youth. 

Rooney, having lost these abilities, is not a player that is representative of someone that has properly developed and reached his maximum potential.

It has been widely reported that Rooney struggles to maintain match fitness.

If this is the case at 27 – when he should be at his peak – then in three or four years it will be a miracle if Rooney can last 90 minutes.

Rooney’s deficiencies are down to two reasons.

Firstly, he does not appear to have the same drive and determination that propelled Ronaldo to become the best player in the world in 2008.

Secondly, he will never develop similar athletic attributes required to match his incredible potential.

When United faced Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League tie Rooney was on the bench.

Before Nani’s dismissal United played the best football of their season and looked like genuine Champions League contenders.

The very fact that United could play at their highest level of the season without their supposed star player in the team is indicative of any future role he has at the club.

With astronomical wages and, after asking twice to leave the club, it appears that United will not have a better financial and tactical opportunity to get rid of someone that is fast becoming a ‘what if’ player.

Image courtesy of Yahoo Sport, via YouTube, with thanks.

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