Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has said he may be forced to give Wayne Rooney a position on the first-team again West Ham in the FA Cup next week because he can be that good for Manchester United.
The Englishman has been sidelined since February with a knee injury and will not feature against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Sunday.
Rooney has been involved in two sessions with the team at the Aon Training Complex this week and found the net with what van Gaal labelled as ‘an incredible chip’, and that sort of quality is clearly resonating with van Gaal.
“I cannot say that because, when I saw him training yesterday, for example, he scored a goal,” van Gaal said this week.
“He made a fantastic chip over the goalkeeper. It was his first training session and then I said to him ‘I have never seen that this season!’
“So I cannot say that, because he can be so good that I shall be forced to give him a position in the team.
“But it depends on what we are seeing, and today was another day. There’s tomorrow also.
“Let’s wait. He plays 60 minutes at a lower level and maybe he can play against West Ham United [in the FA Cup quarter-final replay next Wednesday], you never know.”
Van Gaal pandered to Rooney far too much prior to the turn of the year and fans were getting frustrated about the captain’s privileges which the 30-year-old seemed to get far too often. It was hurting us as a team at the time but van Gaal continued to start him. Then he turned the screw in January 2016 before an injury put a swift end to that good run of form.
Now we find ourselves in a position where Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are both thriving in attack and Rooney is close to coming back from injury. Do you just drop one of those two in order for Rooney to come straight back in? I’d argue not but van Gaal might well see it differently.
I really hope Rooney is made to earn his place back in the team because as soon as he knows his place in a side is guaranteed regardless of his performance, that’s when Rooney gets complacent and his form can take a real downward spiral. Keep him fighting for a place in the team and we might get the best out of him still.