What is Wayne Rooney’s Best Position?
September 12, 2015 | Filed Under: Blog
One of the longest standing debates in football today is which position is the best for Wayne Rooney. Over the year’s changes in management and injuries have taken Wayne out of attacking forward positions to more defensive midfield positions and quite a few positions in-between, but have these changes lead any weight into finally deciding where he is best placed?
Wayne himself is under no illusions about where he should be.
“My best position, and I have always said it, is as a striker, getting into the box and scoring. The two seasons I have really done that as a lone striker were my two best goal scoring seasons here.”
His 2011-12 season in which he scored 35 goals certainly added credibility to this claim, but injuries forced him to a take other midfield roles. Unfortunately for Wayne, because he demonstrated his aptitude in this position he became a good choice for playing midfield as well.
Certainly, his flexibility on the field is one of the more positive attributes of Wayne, and that even in non-forward positions he can make a dramatic difference to the game. Although some may argue that it’s not quite as dramatic as when he is stood a little closer to the opposition’s goal.
However, if you did want to compare the two positions and crunch all the numbers that compare his performance in both forward and midfield positions (I’m not going to do that here but this link contains a lot of stat comparison) there isn’t a great deal of difference overall, although he does have more shots and assists as a striker.
Maybe the difference is purely emotional. Rooney is a player who has already confessed to being much happier playing forward roles and you can certainly tell by the vibrancy and enthusiasm he displays, not to mention the increase in shots when not in midfield.
It may have been the case that Wayne put in midfield out of desperation by Van Gaals system. Maybe he had no other choice to put Wayne there. Though his line-up for 2015 certainly looks as if the reliance on Wayne in Midfield is less, so I would I expect him to return to being a Striker.
New managers regardless of the team are always going to come in and try players in different positions; it’s how they start to fully understand their team and its capabilities. However, it is also important for them to recognise psychological differences when a player is in a position they don’t like.
Wayne is certainly open-minded about changes to where he could play.
“Listen, if the manager wants me to do different jobs then I will do it. It was the same last season.”
But will his fans handle a return to midfield with such an open attitude?
Ultimately, every footballer has an expiry date on their performance. So Wayne Rooney dropping from a forward position is inevitable. However, it is good to know that when Wayne is unable to continue as a striker, he has already proved himself as a midfielder and can drop back to that position and still provide the impact to the game as he currently does.
Rooney is set to miss the Liverpool clash this weekend sustaining a late injury
Credit to Jonathan Roberts