Wayne Rooney has been lackluster in 2015. It’s not the albatross solitary goal in EPL play. He hasn’t helped anyone score either in six crosses Wayne hasn’t linked up once.
To give him credit a nagging ankle injury has kept him out of international play, and undoubtedly troubled him in Premier League matches, but at a certain point it’s about results.
That’s why this weekend’s match-up against Everton has a multitude of elements that make it the perfect time for Rooney to remind the club of his worth.
Van Gaal is Fired Up
United manager Van Gaal has driven himself into a fury over the international break. When talking to the Guardian he steamed,
“We cannot accept it, not only members of staff but the players. We can’t accept it from each other because we want to be the champion and then you have to behave like a champion.”
Van Gaal and Rooney have a good relationship in the media. The manager has defended Wayne Rooney’s place on the team, and it is a great opportunity for Rooney to show it was in good faith.
The younger players have had phenomenal showings, but the chips are down and Rooney finding the net would be a momentum swing for United. He needs to find a way to have a quantifiable impact against Everton. The whisper mill about what to do with the veteran has already started. If he helps put United back on track he’ll have that to answer the critics.
The Gap is Small
United is only two points away from being at the top of the table. Despite the trouncing before the international break, United are still hot on the title trail.
The fact is that United have a tougher weekend ahead than both Manchester City and Arsenal who face Bournemouth and Watford, respectively. With the odds being that City and Arsenal win, United must win to maintain the narrow gap separating them from the league leaders.
The best case scenario is that both Arsenal and Manchester City are upset and United beat Everton soundly. But United would still be in good shape if they win, and one or both of the first two seeds tie in their matches.
If Rooney can show up in a big way to help keep United fighting up the table the fan base and staff will be re-energized and people will stop looking for “solutions”.
Avoid the Spiral, Save the Scapegoat
The media, the manager, staff, can plummet themselves into a valley with a poor performance this weekend. When a whole team dips in form, questions come from every angle, and one of the solutions will be to get Rooney off the field.
Once benched it will only be easier to push the aging striker out of the picture at Old Trafford.
A victory on the back of Wayne Rooney will likely make him appear an Atlas to the club, legendary in strength to carry on himself the weight of team’s title hopes.
Everton have been a bit of a hex on United, winning the last 4 of 6 of their encounters. The most recent match a 3-0 thrashing at Goodison park. A victory will provide the club with the knowledge that it can battle back from adversity.
He’s Listed as Good to Go
Van Gaal has confirmed that Rooney is healthy and ready to play. He passed a fitness test coming off the international break; and he has had a genuine international break, sitting out for both of England’s matches due to his ankle.
It’s up to Wayne to put all that rest and recovery to use this weekend.
Goals should be his goal (see what we did there), but assists would help build his case too. If he’s the perfect guy to feed Depay or Martial the ball Van Gaal is going to keep him on the field.
Let’s hope to see some lightning from the home-grown talent, otherwise we might not see many more appearances (currently at 347 for Manchester United) where Rooney calls Old Trafford his home.