Since moving to Manchester United as an 18-year-old in the 2004-05 season, Wayne Rooney has been a constant figure in the squad at Old Trafford.
After 349 appearances and 172 goals and counting for Red Devils, the England international will go down in history as one of the greatest players ever to have played for the club. However, as the striker ages, the 30-year-old faces continuous media scrutiny over his performances.
Many are expecting Rooney to begin slowing down as a player and this has been the focus of the English media in recent weeks. As he struggles to find the back of the net for United, frustration is mounting on both the United captain and his manager Louis van Gaal.
Following the disappointing 0-0 draw in the Manchester Derby, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager was once again hounded by reporters regarding the Rooney’s form.
The Dutch manager lambasted reporters after the match as he defended his captain. As reported in The Tribune, Van Gaal said, “I don’t give any more answers about Wayne Rooney, I’m sick of them.”
Rooney is not all at fault with his current form, as Van Gaal must shoulder some responsibility for the striker’s poor performances. Currently, the United boss is not utilizing the player in his best position.
Throughout his latter years at United, Rooney has been at his best playing behind a striker. This season, Van Gaal has persisted with a front three of Rooney in a central role, Juan Mata on the right and new signing Anthony Martial out on the left.
Despite facing heavy criticism on his tactics, Van Gaal could benefit both Martial and Rooney in reshuffling the formation to a front two. At the age of 30, Rooney is entering a limbo period of his career.
The striker will need to find his goal-scoring ability once again if he is to maintain his spot the Manchester United squad. In doing so, it could keep the striker at the club for another five years.
Yet, if the opposite was to occur, Rooney could see his playing time reduced dramatically. This happened to Premier League legends Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the latter stages of their career and could happen to United star as well.
To doubt Rooney’s credentials as a footballer is ridiculous. However, the striker will need to find his best once again before his manager loses his patience. The 30-year-old has made a career of silencing critics and he will look to do so again in United’s upcoming fixtures.