Since his return from injury this season, Wayne Rooney has been in marvellous form. He came on in the second half against Tottenham Hotspur to nearly inspire a dramatic turnaround and his performance against Newcastle was arguably one of his finest in a long time.
Both came through Rooney dropping deeper into the midfield and Gary Neville feels that it is but a sign of what is to come as Rooney enters his mature years.
He said: “At the age of 26, you always have to think that there’s more to come.
“We need to see Wayne Rooney improve and he needs to see himself improve.”
He’s a wonderful player, one that is at his best when he’s like the street kid; fighting for every ball, taking every free kick, every throw-in, tackling and heading, fighting to win.”
He’s right. Wayne Rooney is at his best when he is biting at the heels of an opponent, forcing them into a mistake and capitalising on it. Over the early years, it was this attitude that earned him such a reputation as an ill disciplined and naive youngster.
However, he has curbed his disciplinary record without dampening his enthusiasm. He has adapted and bettered himself as a player for it.
“You have to adapt. Rooney is still a centre forward, but he’ll adapt over the next ten years to become someone who’s thought of in that same way as those two players.”
Gary Neville continued: “Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have adapted their games.
“Ryan Giggs has gone from a flying left winger to someone who now plays off the front at inside left as well as central midfield.
“Paul Scholes was a goalscoring number 10 player when he first started as a 16-year-old, now he’s a holding midfield player who controls the game.
At the ages of 37 and 38, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are the best role models a youngster can get. The fact that they can still play top level football is incredible, especially given that the pace of the Premier League only seems to increase each year.
Rooney might only be 26 but adaption and change would bring an unpredictability to his game that could prove lucrative. We all know that he enjoys his football most when he can get as many touches as possible, playing ‘in the hole’ behind the striker.
However, since the departure of Tevez, Ronaldo and now Berbatov, Manchester United have had to rely on the goal scoring antics of Rooney to fuel our title pushes. That simply isn’t the case anymore.
We have scored 17 goals in the league so far this season. Rooney hasn’t scored any. The pressure of having to score in every game doesn’t exist anymore for Rooney, and we could reap the rewards as the year goes on.
With Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez all ready to take on goal scoring responsibility for Manchester United, Wayne Rooney will be free to roam around the pitch, hunting the ball like a fox on the scent of a hound and will be given creative freedom to attack.
Fans are still calling for a Paul Scholes replacement to be bought into Old Trafford but the rebirth of Wayne Rooney could provide us with that exact replacement from within.