Connect with us


Who really should partner Wayne Rooney?



Perhaps the best playing partner for Wayne Rooney is yet to be discoveredManchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has a conundrum on his hands. Both Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov would have the credentials to start in most sides all around the globe. However, with the re-emergence of Wayne Rooney, only one can.

A few months back, there might have been a case for playing Hernandez and Berbatov simultaneously. Rooney, after misfiring at the World Cup, was struggling to recover the form that had led to his 34 goals in the last campaign. Even then though, Ferguson kept faith in the Evertonian, and it has paid colossal dividends. Rooney’s breathtaking acrobatic effort against bitter rivals Manchester City has sparked form in the same bracket as last year.

As a result, only one of ‘Chicharito’ and ‘Berbaflop’, as some adversaries name the Bulgarian, can be accommodated. One thing is for sure: with a tally of twenty goals in the league alone this season, Berbatov’s unfortunate moniker is unwarranted. Being the Premier League’s top scorer while not being an automatic pick is not a regular occurrence, yet it is what he has had to endure. Berbatov has started only 21 of United’s 30 league games, including just one in the last five, making his goal-scoring record even more remarkable.

Hernandez, on the other hand, has started three of the league leaders’ last five. These figures suggest that the Mexican is winning the battle to start. But he may not have won the war; Ferguson’s tendency to rotate is demonstrated by the fact that he has named an unchanged line-up only twice in the last three seasons. Furthermore, Berbatov scored a critical winner against Bolton last weekend, after having come on to replace his Mexican teammate.

In one sense, Ferguson’s dilemma is almost a matter of style rather than quality. Hernandez represents a poacher, whose job is simply to stick on the last defender, cause problems with his movement, and conclude his side’s moves. Berbatov has a distinctly different manner, which involves clever touches and dropping deeper to get involved in build up play. Although he has sometimes been accused of being languid, his work rate has improved of late.

Some pundits have taken the approach that Hernandez’s recent selection has been a result of Rooney’s preference to play with the speed merchant. Rooney’s instinct is to play off another striker, and Hernandez fulfils this role, conceivably better than Berbatov. In the past, in crunch matches, Berbatov has often been left on the bench. With the emergence of Hernandez, however, it is nigh-on impossible to second-guess Ferguson’s selection. Whether Rooney plays alone, or whether Hernandez or Berbatov supports him, is almost a lottery.

There is of course method behind Ferguson’s decisions, but they have become increasingly tricky to predict. Of United’s last five giant clashes – stretching back to the first leg against Marseille and including games against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea – Rooney has started all five, Hernandez three and Berbatov two. Then again, was the Bulgarian rested against the Gunners in the FA Cup? Was Hernandez left out of the Liverpool simply because of Berbatov’s sublime hat-trick against them earlier this year?

Whatever the motives behind Ferguson’s decisions, it is clear that he has to make an important one every week. The pair both have excellent records, scoring roughly once every hundred minutes; better than double as good as Rooney’s strike-rate. It seems that Hernandez, only 22, will be Rooney’s long term partner, but it goes without saying that Berbatov’s role in the meantime is vital, if not even bigger. And, having been so maligned, he may well want to vindicate his £30.75 million purchase too.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Latest News

Football1 month ago

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher calls on the Reds to sign Bundesliga superstars Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has urged the Reds to sign Bundesliga superstars Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner in the upcoming...

Football1 month ago

Massimiliano Allegri confirms he will be back in management in September with Manchester United heavily linked with the Italian

Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed he will be back in management in September at an event in Paris, which will put...

Arsenal1 month ago

Arsenal ace Alexandre Lacazette refutes rumours that he will leave the club in the summer

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette has given a huge hint on his future by stating that the rumours that he will...

Football1 month ago

Bayern Munich monitoring Liverpool star Roberto Firmino for a potential move in the summer

Bayern Munich have reportedly made contact with Liverpool star Roberto Firmino for a potential move in the summer. The Brazil...

Arsenal1 month ago

Gary Neville heaps praise on Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and claims he is a Premier League great

Former Manchester United defender turned pundit Gary Neville has given praise to Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and has suggested that...

Chelsea1 month ago

Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso wanted by Italian giants Juventus and Inter Milan

Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso is reportedly wanted by Italian giants Juventus and Inter Milan but are not happy with the...

Chelsea1 month ago

Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech reveals boss Frank Lampard was a key reason for his move to Stamford Bridge

Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech has revealed that boss Frank Lampard was a key reason for his move to Stamford Bridge....

Football2 months ago

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirms that Marcus Rashford is out for a couple of months and could miss the Euros

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed that striker Marcus Rashford is out for a couple of months and...

Arsenal2 months ago

Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi’s future uncertain after bust-up with manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi is fighting to stay at the club after being involved in a bust-up with manager Mikel...

Arsenal2 months ago

Arsenal and Manchester United set to battle it out for £50m-rated defender Dayot Upamecano

Arsenal and Manchester United are set to battle it out in the upcoming summer transfer window for £50m-rated RB Leipzig...