Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wayne Rooney Is Better and More Important for Manchester United than Ronaldo Ever Was

Wayne Rooney is in the form of his life. The 24-year-old has single-handedly kept Manchester United in the title hunt this season with a string of phenomenal performances. And while Ronaldo's presence may be missed, it is Rooney who is now proving to be the Real Deal at United.

When Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for a world-record transfer fee of £80 million, many thought Manchester United's chances of retaining their title were gone with the Portuguese. No doubt United have missed him, but Rooney has stepped up to the mark in unbelievable fashion.

To say that Manchester United are a one-man team at the moment would almost do a disservice to Rooney! Many of his performances have been God-like, as he carried a team labouring to meet previous high levels.

Dimitar Berbatov is a shadow of his former Spurs self; the Bulgarian seems petrified of the responsibility of playing for a club like United, while the Michael Owen gamble has backfired. In the summer, when the ex-Liverpool striker came in, the move looked a master stroke by Fergie, but Owen, too, has failed to meet the high standards set before him.

Lacking the goals of Ronaldo, and the dogged presence of Tevez, and being paired with misfiring strikers, all the responsibility has fallen on Rooney's shoulders.

In previous years, Rooney was putting in selfless performances as he sacrificed his own game for the good of the team, and Ronaldo. The Liverpudlian was often played out wide on either side or in behind Ronaldo, rarely was he afforded the chance to play in his natural position, such is his attitude and his natural ability.

Whilst Ronaldo thrived with Rooney doing all the donkey work, Rooney's own game looked like it was suffering. In truth, this was hardly the case. Rooney has always been the foundation for United's success, and the only thing missing was a constant supply of goals.

This tempted some foolish fans to suggest that it was Rooney's fault for Berbatov's lazy performances, and the England striker did not suit the Bulgarian's languid style. While others suggested he was little more than an aggressive workhorse.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While Rooney is probably the hardest working player in the Premiership, if not world football, he is blessed with fantastic skill, perfect technique, and an eye for a pass or goal.

Over the past couple of seasons Rooney has been the main man for both club and country. He provides the foundation for all that is good about United's and England's play. At international level, it is through Rooney's selfless play that Steven Gerrard has finally become a fixture in the team.

For many years, it was felt that you could not accommodate both Gerrard and Lampard in the same team. While Lampard is a more natural midfielder, Gerrard is an attacking phenom, but conventional wisdom was right, both could not play in the centre.

Now with Gerrard on the left and Lampard in the centre, it falls on Rooney to fill the frequent gaps left by the Liverpool captain on his frequent marauding attacks, which he does with casual ease.

On the United front, Rooney has become the main focus as never before. In years gone by, he was happy to play in the shadows, as a team player. But now that he is the pivotal point on which the team rotates, he has become irreplaceable.

It is worth noting when comparing Ronaldo's collection of goals to Rooney's lack of net rattlers, that the Englishman has scored 84 Premiership goals in 179 games, while Ronaldo reached that magic 84 goals in 196 games. Rooney rarely takes free kicks or penalties.

In the end, Ronaldo wanted to leave; he had stayed at United for as long as he wanted, and he chose to leave for pastures new in his boyhood heroes Real Madrid. Sir Alex Ferguson always knew that this day would come for the Portuguese, and the best he could do was talk him out of the move for one season.

United are now in such debt that Real Madrid and Barcelona are sniffing around Old Trafford, looking for and crack that will allow them exploit the situation and bring Rooney to Spain.

What are United doing about this?

They're readying an offer to make Wayne Rooney the highest paid player in their history. It is a figure that was never offered to Ronaldo, some £160,000 per week.

What all of this means is that Alex Ferguson knows that his team cannot compete without Wayne Rooney at the moment. Keeping him at the club would be similar to signing two or three world class players, such is Rooney's undoubted talent.

In short, he is the closest I have seen to meeting Diego Maradona's high standard.

Wayne Rooney has that potential, and is that good. England cannot function without him, Manchester United cannot function without him, and he is easily one of, if not the best, player in the world at the moment.

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