Steven Gerrard believes Wayne Rooney deserves more credit than he gets for adapting to a deeper midfielder role.
The Manchester United captain has been deployed in central midfield for England throughout the Euros and has impressed with his range of passing, ability to spread the play and start attacks for England.
The pair played against each other in Man United – Liverpool derbies for over a decade and Gerrard thinks Rooney’s evolution has been impressive:
“There should be greater appreciation for how he has evolved his game. It is not easy to go from being a striker, to a No 10 and then a No 8, as he is at the moment. Not all players can do it,” Gerrard wrote in the Telegraph.
“To make that transition successfully – particularly at international level – takes an unbelievable amount of skill and the most mature football brain.
“At the moment, Wayne is showing he can play the latter part of his career playing that so-called ‘Paul Scholes-role’.
“The natural footballing intelligence is something Wayne has had since he was a youngster, but with the added experience he has been able to adapt to his new position.”
The arrival of Jose Mourinho at United has resulted in a feeling of ambiguity as to how the club will plan ahead for next season. There has been speculation regarding the arrivals of several players but the Euros have put that on the back-burner.
It remains to be seen just where Mourinho envisions Wayne Rooney playing in a United shirt and with the presumed arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, United’s attack might be a little crowded with Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Adnan Januzaj all vying for places in the team.
The problem is that none of those players can drop into midfield and Rooney has proven that this is a possibility with him and the 30-year-old might become a victim of his own versatility.
In central midfield, Michael Carrick has signed a new contract but both Marouane Fellaini and Bastian Schweinstieger’s careers at Old Trafford are up in the air. Morgan Schneiderlin will surely get a second chance to impress and could flourish under Mourinho but who his partner at the heart of midfield will be remains an important question for Mourinho.
Will it be Rooney, one of the other other players mentioned or does Mourinho have further arrivals in mind?