Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United for Real Madrid last summer people have said that United look a weaker side without him.
That is understandable as any team would miss a former world player of the year who scored a staggering 42 goals in the 07/08 season. Many people stated that United were over reliant on him and with good reason as he scored countless winning goals and seemed to be United’s solitary threat in the Champions League final against Barcelona.
This was again backed up at the start of the season, despite United getting results, they seemed to lack in attacking options. People asked the question who would step up to the plate and fill Ronaldos goal scoring shoes?
Many saw Valencia as a replacement for Ronaldo, but he lacks the trickery and goals to become a full replacement. A few hoped that Nani could, but despite rapid improvement he is still very inconsistent. All the others heaped the pressure on Rooney to finally fulfil his potential and become the world class striker that was promised by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Fabio Capello.
Fair play to Rooney, as in the past few months he has become just that. Having already scored 25 goals this season has made him one of the hottest strikers on the planet, arguably on an equal level with the magical Lionel Messi.
But with Rooney scoring 10 goals in United’s last 8 games, it appears they are starting to rely upon him the same way they did with Ronaldo. Obviously Ferguson or any of the United players wouldn’t say that they rely upon him, they would say that he is a great player (which is true). But take Rooney out of the starting line up, and again the Premier League holders seem very weak in attack.
It is not just his goals that are so important to the team, but his overall play, you just have to see his assist for Berbatov’s goals in the 3-1 victory away to Hull to see that he can pick out a pass. Rooney is also willing to track back and defend when needed to and constantly harass defenders for the full 90 minutes, which often leads to United scoring late goals.
When it does come to Rooney scoring goals, it seems he can score them all. From simple tap-ins to long range screamers and he even scored a couple with his head in midweek.
The only major concern now for United and England is can he continue to perform at this high level without injury or fatigue. If he can continue to play as he is now, not just this season or in the Summer in South Africa, but for the next few seasons. Then I can’t see why he can’t become an England and Manchester United all time great.
If however, he does get an injury, it will be clear to see how reliant Manchester United, and to a certain extent England, have become on the scouser from Croxteth.