The talisman. The captain. The player who can do wrong in the eyes of Louis van Gaal needs to be judged without bias by his manager following a dreadful display against Swansea.
As the striker your job is to score when given chances. Rooney had two clear one-on-one chances that a world-class striker – what many believe him to still be – should finish. On both chances Rooney had an opening to strike the ball with his left foot but opted to try and cut the ball to his favored right instead. Both times he was dispossessed brilliantly.
He should have put the ball on target with his left foot. There’s no excuse for someone of his pedigree and experience to think he would have time to cut back on his right and slot the ball easily into the far corner.
The more concerning fact, however, isn’t Rooney; it’s who is behind him in the pecking order. Hernandez is a player who is clearly not wanted by his club, and clearly doesn’t want to be at United, either. You can’t expect a player to perform at their best under such circumstances, and the lack of precision was apparent in United’s second leg fixture against Bruges when the Mexican international missed multiple wide-open chances. His head has already left United. Who then fills in for Rooney? We have no one.
Rooney is not going to be healthy the whole campaign, mark my words. His body is aging. He can’t be expected to shoulder the attacking load game in and game out. He is not going to net you the 20 goals you need from a starting striker.
I’m hesitant to lay it on the Dutchman because of his age. He’s 21, and clearly very raw. He’s got loads of athleticism and plays with great energy. But he also makes it very easy to pick apart his game.
Number one is his decision making, which has been poor at best. Against Swansea, time after time he chose to take the man on rather than slot the ball through or lay it back into the midfield for a switch. And reversely, when he is in a position to show his speed and skill, he turns around and drops the ball off to Luke Shaw. Decision-making is a product of experience, so it will come, but in the mean time, use what you’ve got son and run right at defenders like Ronaldo used to. Stop being hesitant.
Number two is passing. Memphis’ passing is consistently off. His passes seem to always be too hard or too soft, or he’s playing a through ball instead of passing to feet. He seems like a typical player who has gotten by on raw athleticism and never perfected the basics. He’s got to improve on the simple stuff if he’s going to be a great player.
I am guilty of jumping on the hype train when Bastian signed. I thought the German would bring immediate structure to the midfield and make United a more organized unit. Not so.
Against Swansea he was dispossessed often and was caught out of position on far too many occasions. He seemed slow to play the ball, and by the end of the game was lobbing the ball forward in desperation to Marouane Fellaini. I expect Ashley Young to do that, but not the German engine who lead his country to victory in the World Cup. Bastian is old, and his legs are even older, but as a holding midfielder you can get by despite a lack of athleticism through intelligent positioning. Bastian should be doing this but he’s not, and I simply don’t know why.
I feel bad for the Argentinian. He’s not the number one option and he knows it. If the David de Gea saga ended now with the Spaniard staying at United, Romero would immediately be relegated to the bench. He knows. Everyone knows it. That can’t be easy to deal with. Nonetheless, you have to perform at your best, and against Swansea he was dreadful.
His clearances were on par with a rec league father of two. One clearance went short and straight to Swansea, which was nearly put away.
His reaction for the second goal was not even second team worthy; the shot was slow and low, and yet it slipped underneath him.
The first goal was not his fault, as it was a brilliant header from André Ayew. Unfortunately, I think de Gea would have saved it. He’s an inch taller and quicker off his line.
Some defenders of Romero will point out today was his first time conceding in the league. That’s true, but going into today’s game he had only faced 5 shots, the third least in the league.
If United sell de Gea to Madrid, Romero is our only choice for number one, and there’s no way we can win the league that way. The league is too long to win without a world-class keeper.
As poor as the players were, the manager was even poorer. His first two subs were baffling. Michael Carrick for Morgan Schneiderlin was a mistake. The Frenchman was one of the better players for United on the day and has more legs than his midfield counterpart, Schweinsteiger, who should have been the one to come off instead.
Ashley Young for Mata was a similar mistake. Mata was playing well on the wing and scored United’s only goal, whereas Memphis on the opposite side was never in the game. Memphis should have been taken off.
Fellaini for Ander Herrera made sense. The big Belgian is dangerous in the air, and in the dying minutes Swansea would inevitably sit back defending, giving United chances to throw the ball in the box. However, this brings up a bigger issue, and that’s United’s lack of penetration. They cannot work the ball through the middle, and they rely too heavily on crosses. Young is a glorified crosser. That’s it. I’m dead serious in saying I feel confident that I could play in place of Young. He’s brought on to run to the corner and throw the ball in the box. When did Manchester United settle for such recreational play? It’s disturbingly pathetic and embarrassing.