Wayne Rooney is confident he can adapt to play in the Paul Scholes role for Manchester United.
Having played alongside and trained with Scholes for a number of years at Man United, Rooney has had an inside view on one of United’s best ever midfielders but there have been question marks over whether he could adapt in the same way Scholes did over his career.
Scholes started off as a striker but dropped deeper the older he got until he settled into a playmaker role and that’s something Rooney is happy to try and emulate.
“I’ve known for a few years [that I can be at home there],” Rooney said.
“I have played there a few times throughout my career and I can play that position. I have played and watched Paul Scholes play that role for years and I always knew that one day that is where I would play so I have tried to learn and watch what he did, it is still early days but hopefully if I keep playing there I can develop and get better.”
Rooney showed against Everton at the weekend how he can play that Scholes role if he’s got the space on the ball. His passing range was excellent, his vision was top notch and he had plenty of time to look but it’s in tighter games where his weaknesses in that role have been previously exposed.
His first touch is nowhere near as cultured as Scholes and in a high tempo game where space is a rare commodity, that’s where Rooney has struggled. He certainly can’t be questioned over his work ethic but it’s just that quality on the ball in possession which makes me wonder whether he could ever truly play the Scholes role.
However, the emergence of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial has forced Rooney’s hand. He might want to play up front but there’s no chance either of those two players are getting dropped to accommodate him, so maybe next season is where we’ll start to see Rooney in a midfield role.