Wayne Rooney might just be in the process of reinventing himself as a central midfielder. His performance in the middle of the park in the 3-1 win against Bournemouth on Tuesday would suggest he has been there all his life.
Rooney scored one goal, assisted another and made three key passes in a game that Man United dominated thanks to the captain’s adventurous and accurate passing. He completed 88% of his passes with 65 out of his 100 being in the opposition’s half.
The Englishman scored his 100th league goal at Old Trafford against Bournemouth and many United fans will indeed recall him putting the ball in the back of the net up top.
But if he continues to develop his awareness in the middle, and is given time to better understand the role and accept that his time as a striker for United is over, he could well fill the Paul Scholes-shaped hole that has been in United’s midfield since the flame-haired magician retired in 2013.
Rooney touched the ball a total of 105 times, which was the most by a United player, and he also showed he is not simply a pass-spraying midfielder. He won 60% of his duels, made three interceptions, one block and gained possession in defence 12 times.
Rooney’s struggles in front of goal have been well documented this season but he looks fresh, fit and fearless in a midfield that is crying out for a leader.