Hull City boss and ex-Manchester United captain Steve Bruce has jumped to the defence of Wayne Rooney, praised his qualities as a team player and insisted he is still capable of winning matches on his own.
Rooney’s poor performance against CSKA Moscow is the latest in a string of underwhelming showings from the soon-to-be 30-year-old, which has led to more criticism from fans who are understandably frustrated.
Despite his shortcomings, Bruce believes his career to date means Rooney should be given some slack.
“There can’t even been a question of what he has achieved and what he is going to go on to achieve,” Bruce said.
“Wayne suffers a little bit from being the great team player he is. He can play wide on the left, he has played off the front, he plays as a centre-forward, he plays as a midfield player.
“That is his greatest strength. He is one of the greats we talk about.
“Even his poor game or his average game he always gives you everything he has got.
“He is a fantastic team player and he has been the outstanding English player for the last ten years.
“He has got to deal with getting a bit older but I still think there is a load in the tank.
“At the moment he is going through one of those spells but he is a fantastic player and one that can win a derby, that’s for sure.”
Herein lies the problem – how many times do we, as fans, find ourselves frustrated with Rooney? It’s far too often, especially for a player who is not only our captain but is one of the biggest names in football? He is on fire when he’s in a hot patch but they are sandwiched between cold, barren spells.
Rooney’s career over the last few years has very much been like a stretched out live version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. There’s momentary bits of enjoyment but the true problems are never fixed and we always find ourselves back at the same starting point. It’s a boring narrative for fans now.
There’s not much more we can all say as fans on the Rooney situation. None of it is new and nothing we do will change what Louis van Gaal thinks, so the only thing we can hope for is that Rooney sorts it out pronto and actually starts performing like he should be.