Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel has defended Wayne Rooney amid widespread criticism of the striker.
Rooney has been under fire during the early stages of Man United’s 2014/15 campaign after failing to pose an attacking threat in the Premier League.
However, following a sumptuous hat-trick against Club Brugge last Wednesday which ensured United’s place in the Champions League group stages, the 29-year-old’s critics have been somewhat silenced.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Schmeichel expressed his support for Rooney and condemned those who wrote off the striker.
“What I sometimes think is not happening is looking at what Wayne does for the team. Wayne is an unselfish player, Wayne leaves room for everybody else, Wayne creates a lot of opportunities for everybody else and Wayne’s a leader,” he said.
“He’s taken over the armband and what is clear to me is that he’s taken upon him a responsibility that he takes very seriously. I think he’s not been struggling.
“OK, he’s not been scoring the number of goals but as long as someone else is scoring the goals that are needed [it’s OK].
“[Against] Newcastle, you can argue that we should score more goals and we probably should have, but those kind of games, you have them. You can’t even explain why they are happening but I think with Wayne’s performance [against Club Brugge], I don’t think the question was very fair, because to score a hat-trick put it to bed so early in the game, I think that’s what Wayne Rooney‘s all about.”
The big Dane is right in saying that Rooney has been recently charged with occupying a role that requires more discipline. Rooney’s presence in the centre aims to open up more spaces for wide men, thus stretching the opposition; this tactic worked to great effect against Manchester City in April.
However, following occasional spells of attacking impotency from the entire side this season, supporters are right in critiquing Rooney, since the captain is charged with the responsibility of leading United’s line.
For a player targeting 20 goals this season, 12 game droughts should be considered as subpar for a player of Rooney’s pedigree, even if his current role entails having less time on the ball. Performances of similar quality to what was seen against Brugge is the expected level for United’s main striker; supporters will be desperate to see Rooney’s supreme goalscoring touch continue in the Premier League.