In the first of a new series on The Peoples Person, Red Thoughts brings together a group of Manchester United fans to talk about the latest hot topics on the club. First up – should Wayne Rooney be automatic first choice No.10 at Man United this season under Jose Mourinho?
Think about it as a written podcast, a fans’ forum, a place to debate and discuss. We hope you enjoy it and there’ll be plenty more in the future.
CARL: Rooney should be given a chance at no. 10, but if he doesn’t cut it then it’s only fair for Mata or Herrera should step in and get a shot.
JIM: I’d actually give Mata another chance at number 10 – he’s impressed me there during preseason and he could thrive in the role with the pace of Martial and Mkhi and the physicality (as well as other attributes) of Zlatan around him. This could be the year where he finally delivers on that price tag and really steps up his game to show how good he truly is.
HEMOR: Rooney should be given chance there for some weeks and if he doesn’t seal it, Mata should be given a chance. If he doesn’t seal it either then Herrera should be given a chance there. One of them should be able to meet our expectations.
BETS: I don’t see why Rooney must be given the chance as you guys are saying. On and off he’s been poor since SAF’s last season. At the time people said he didn’t play well alongside RVP, well that excuse is long gone. Occasionally he still shows touches of his old brilliance but he’s like a 38 year old, not a 32 year old. I’m a big fan of Mata and would like him to be given first chance.
FAB: Despite the fact he is our captain, Rooney, especially in some of this preseason performances, has shown that he is past his best. It’s hard to accept it but I wouldn’t play him at no.10 and maybe he should be dropped. The other option is Mkhitaryan, but we had constant problems last season on that right wing, when our RB’s and RW’s were not at their best. We need someone to push hard there and Henrikh is the best choice we have. By the looks of it, Valencia, Darmian and our talented youngster Fosu-Mensah can work with someone of Mkhitaryan’s calibre. Mou may use him in the no.10 position, where he was fantastic at Dortmund and replaced Goetze really effectively, but if the manager makes this choice then he really must have a great player to use on the RW. The other options at no. 10 are Herrera and Mata.
Our Special Juan is great at no.10 but he could easily fall under Mourinho as he loves to play with the ball and does magic but he wouldn’t fight for the ball -and Mata’s defensive abilities are a shambles. This for me, means that he will be used as a backup but not as a starter.
As part of the #FreeHerrera campaign I would love to see Ander in that no.10 position. He would still help our CDMs and push forward as well. There have been several games last year where he was pretty good but was always benched for the next game.
RICK: Rooney is past his best and should now be considered either as a backup or a rotation option. Mata should be no.10 with Mkhitaryan on the RW, with Martial left and Ibra up front. As a rotation at No.10 I would sayMkhitaryan, with Rashford playing RW. Or even give Memphis a chance.
BETS: I’m a big fan of Herrera but I don’t think he’s a No.10. I would keep him in midfield alongside Schneiderlin or Pogba. I also don’t agree that Mata is bad defensively. I know this is common wisdom and is supposed to be the reason he left Chelsea, but I just don’t see it. He might not be the world’s greatest tackler but his positional sense and work rate mean he’s often there to cover and intercept. However, as Fab says, Mourinho likes warriors so maybe the likes of Mata and Herrera are just not physical enough for him, and we might even find Fellaini as a regular choice in midfield, or even at No.10. I can see the point that Mata and Rashford at 10 and 9 would be lacking a physical presence, but Mata and Ibrahimovic I think would be awesome.
RICK: Bets, I don’t think that’s a proper argument for not playing Mata. Stats show consistently that he covers more ground than any United player and he tracks back and makes tackles. He doesn’t get bullied off the ball either. Plus the power Mourinho wanted as first choice at Chelsea over Mata wasn’t physically strong either. I mean Oscar is weak.
BETS: But as far as Rooney is concerned, I haven’t seen the best of Wayne Rooney, other than in flashes, for 4 years. He is indecisive in front of goal. His control is poor and the aggression which was such an important part of his game is long gone. I think it was idiotic of Moyes/Woodward to give him a £300,000 per week contract for 5 years, at his age, so we are stuck with him. Who else will pay him those sort of wages now?
He’s burned out early because he was always a stocky lad and started at the top level so young.
The coaches all seem to love him and base their team around him (is it because of a mixture of loyalty and sentimentality, or is he much better in training than on the pitch?)- for me, it was LVG’s biggest mistake at United and Hodgson’s biggest mistake as England manager – how much better England were when Wayne was injured.
JIM: He needs to be sold. He’s past it and we have better options at number 10.
RICK: We either need Mata to start as no.10 or buy someone else. Rooney is past it, he has been for at least 2 seasons now. All that’s happening is that he’s been rewarded for what he’s done in the past, which is not what should happen. Fergie said it many times – sometime even when a player has been a very good servant, when their time has come you need to move them on if you want to stay at the top and keep challenging for titles year after year. That is what must be done with Rooney. Also, we could use his wages on a lot more than we get from him. Last season was a typical example where he didn’t play one decent match until about March, when the season was drawing to an end. For someone who is supposed to be the captain, that is not good enough. In fact, from any player that isn’t good enough. So many times last season he couldn’t control the ball or regularly make a 5 yard pass. In fact I’m pretty sure his passing accuracy was below 50% until after Christmas. Also, Rooney is not an inspiring captain, he never has and never will be a captain. He just cannot lift the team the way a captain should when things are tough and when the team need a strong personality to step up and give the team a lift and drive then forward, he simply just can’t do it. We’ve seen it for United and it’s exactly the same when he plays for England.
Herrera should be rotated with the current CMs we have, I think that’s a better position for him. Although I did like him when he played in the UCL at no.10.
REX: Managers see him train everyday so on that aspect, they probably must have seen something different than we do to keep him this long. People tend to forget that his first ‘tantrum’ was against Fergie and he won that one by demanding extra wages. Then obviously Moyes needed to keep him under contract because if he’d left at that time, it would’ve meant a lot more than just Wayne leaving..more like United were in decline (which we were) and couldn’t hold on to their players. But LVG and now Mourinho seem to not even consider him leaving…so they probably see a lot more in training than we do. But time will tell in this new tenure, as mourinho isn’t scared of big names. If he underperforms he’ll get benched and probably worse, so give it time.
FAB: One day he’ll play great and score awesome goals, performs well and then goes to zero. Sometimes he has no direction in the pitch, can’t connect to the players, keeps dragging around the midfield and attack and gives me the feeling of wanting to kill him. And sometimes it’s even worse – two different performances in the same game. This decline started 3-4 years ago. The truth may hurt, but accepting it is the best medicine for anyone.
HEMOR: Rooney is dragging us back but I still have a feeling that Jose can revive him, which is why I’d like him to be given a fair amount of chances.
JIM: He’s just got to go. We try him as a number 9 – he fails. We try him in midfield – not bad but still needed to give a lot more there. We try him at number 10 – he completely and utterly fails. I respect all he’s done for the club but he’s past it and we need to move him on – we need to look to the future, not get bogged down by the past.