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Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney shakes the hand of Louis van Gaal, after another less-than-impressive performance for Manchester United.

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Could Rooney be nearing the end?

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Even after all the talk of his poor form, it still beggared belief when his number came up against Leicester. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United and England talisman for years, was called off the pitch, amongst a smattering of cheers from his own fans. United fans on social media rejoiced. Armchair pundits everywhere nodded their heads in agreement. 

Louis van Gaal has maintained it was not due to Rooney's poor form that he was substituted, but rather because he was 'a little bit injured'. Injury or not, the Scouser has been well below his best for a number of months now, and it has been the one of the most hotly-debated topics among the sports pages - just when will Rooney be dropped?

When we look at it in context, it has been a strange time for Rooney. All of this talk comes at a period in which he has broken the England Football Team's goalscoring record, and finished as England's top scorer in qualifying. Manchester United sit third in the Premier League table, just one point from top. And yet, watching Wayne play, it is clear there is something not quite right.

All of the long distance passes, the volcanic running, the deft flicks that used to be the hallmark of one of England's most exciting players are gone. He loses possession, can't impose himself on games, and cannot even seem to get in the positions to score goals at the minute. There has been talk about him dropping back into midfield to better utilise his talents, like a better-quality model Alan Smith, but at the minute those talents aren't anywhere on view. He looks utterly lost while games pass him by.

Is it a surprise? Rooney is 30 now, and in the nicest way possible, everyone knows he has had to work hard to maintain a peak level of fitness. It won't be a surprise to see him a few years after retirement, his waistline expanding and his hair receding, as the physique he was meant to have will finally catch up with him - a Ricky Hatton-esque slide into poor shape. 

The point therein is that Rooney's frame was not meant for professional sport - it is through sheer hard-work, good nutrition, and exercise that he has managed to make the most of his body. There are stories of the young Rooney being called into David Moyes' office at Everton, with the manager reminding him not to eat past 7pm - lest the carbs catch up with him.

His hard-playing style combined with a stocky physique have probably dulled the effectiveness of those previously explosive joints and muscles as well. He is a blunt razor at the minute - he may look the same but the sharp edge is gone.

Would an extended break help him? It surely couldn't do any harm. But how do you temper the fact that a player needs a break, yet that player is exceptionally susceptible to putting on weight and looking sluggish after an extended period out?

Whatever the answer is, Roy Hodgson and Louis van Gaal will be hoping it makes itself clear soon. Otherwise we could be witnessing the end of Rooney as we knew him.

Sam publishes regular feature and tips pieces for Howtobet4free. He has a blog,, and can be found on Twitter by following @Gaytski.

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Comments & Feedback

Posted by Spurs565 on
If Chelsea had bought Rooney in 2013, would Chelsea have been accused of causing the drop in form of Wayne Rooney? Rooney has no attacking foil to play with at United. LVG is so negative, it just doesn't suit Rooney!
Posted by bloomflower on
LVG tactics aren't helping! It seems his happy to take a 0-0 draw every game.
Posted by richard_skinner on
He was better when he had some bite about him and didn't have to worry about the responsibility of being captain . Best thing would be a short -long term injury meaning captaincy passes over . When he comes back he wouldn't mind making a late tackle or arguing a bit to get his sharpness back
Posted by Arsenal4you on
Playing Rooney in midfield? If he had the legs and and ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck then yes why not, but Rooney is a poor Tom Cleverley these days. Only hope is to play him with an out and out striker.
Posted by domarsenal123 on
Past it
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