June 12, 2009


Cristiano Ronaldo's departure leaves a hole that Wayne Rooney must fill: Wayne Rooney must focus on his attacking duties for Manchester United, as he does for England (Kevin McCarra, 6/11/09, Guardian Sports Blog)

The issue for Ferguson is more complex than recruiting someone to take over Ronaldo's duties. He will be driven to review the overall circumstances at Old Trafford. Comprehensive defeat by Barcelona had made that a priority in any case. The manager has, of course, been conscious of the passing of a generation and the transition is well-advanced.

Gary Neville could not claim a seat among the substitutes for the Champions League final and Paul Scholes participated for a paltry 15 minutes. Ferguson will have drawn conclusions, too, from his need to bring on the midfielder for Ryan Giggs. At 35, the Welshman may continue to be a marvel for a while yet, but seemingly not at the very pinnacle of the sport.

There might not be a series of transfer moves by the manager even if the Glazers were ready to authorise it. Ferguson already has a large squad and there are figures in it that can do better still. Wayne Rooney is a perfect example. His contribution has been substantial already, but someone with his gifts ought by now to have been a potent candidate for the world and European footballer of the year awards already collected by Ronaldo. He is still to claim that sort of title even in England. United should seek more artistry and rather less industry from a player so willing to serve that he regularly helps out the left-back Patrice Evra.

Rooney's prime duty is to astonish us. He can achieve that if he is told that his prime duty is to create and surprise. That is an order in which he would rejoice. Drudgery is for lesser performers. England have had that firmly in mind under Fabio Capello, a man who does not indulge any footballer unless he is sure that the licence he grants them will be productive. International fixtures, of course, are often easier than the games United face, but there is a rightness about the sight of Rooney staying in the thick of the attack when with England.

...Bryan Trottier ought to stop back-checking and digging in the corners and should lurk in front of the net more, like Phil Esposito. It would be a very bad mistake for Sir Alex to take his best player and waste him as a mere sniper. It would be one thing if you already had Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard to get him the ball--as he has when he plays for England (8 goals in his last 7 games). But on Manchester United he is Gerrard/Lampard. Use him that way.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 12, 2009 5:34 AM
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