Manchester United have endured an indifferent start from the opening couple of Premier League matches despite signing Robin van Persie from Arsenal for 24 million earlier in the month. After his illustrious previous season, the Dutch international, Van Persie, was expected to create waves and play a huge part in regaining the Premier League title from their Manchester rivals, especially with his new strike partner in Wayne Rooney.
However, the signing of RVP may have created more problems than it had solved as it re-opened the debate of Wayne Rooney’s happiness at the club which hasn’t been questioned since the 2010/11 season.
Rooney failed to put any goals away against his former club, Everton on the opening Monday Night Football encounter at Goodison Park with the new signing in Van Persie coming off the bench. The roles were reversed, however, for the second contest that the Red Devils faced this season at home to Fulham with Wayne Rooney coming on after the hour mark.
RVP had made his mark though by opening United’s scoring for the season alongside fellow Old Trafford debutant in Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese attacking midfielder has looked more promising for Sir Alex Ferguson’s outfit after putting in a decent shift at Goodison Park and providing an edge in both games, using his vast footballing brain to pick out the impossible pass or the difficult chance at goal.
Wayne Rooney was quick to extinguish the claims that he was about to leave the club he has plied his trade for across eight years. Rooney took to Twitter to advertise his want to stay at Old Trafford, tweeting, “Read the nonsense in the papers and heard what people have to say. Absolute rubbish. #heartosay”
As Ferguson has learned in recent years, particularly with former fan favourite Cristiano Ronaldo, is that what the players voice in public might not be how the situation concludes. Ronaldo expressed the need to move away from Manchester after capturing the 2008 Champions League triumph over Chelsea following the speculation which began in the 2006 World Cup incident in the quarter-final tie against England.
The top scorer who netted 44 times in the 2007/08 would leave for Real Madrid in a record 80 million euro swoop after claiming his interest to stay with the club. Ferguson will pray into his morning cereal that Wayne Rooney will be honest with his social airings.
Of course, the situation remains very dissimilar to both Ronaldo’s departure and the speculation of the former Evertonian leaving only a mere year later.
Whether Rooney or Van Persie can co-operate or not in a forward role, history has taught Fergie that the former can be flexible and work around others as he did in the 2009 Champions League final against Barcelona, as Ferguson worked his team around Cristiano Ronaldo, sticking the English forward on the left-wing.
We all know Rooney is at his brutal best when he can tear teams part, contort their defence in a role behind the primary striker, the position which has been equipped by Shinji Kagawa as of late.
The dilemma facing Fergie might not be RVP or Rooney but whether or not he chooses the new exciting signing of Kagawa compared to that of a goal machine in Rooney, the decision will be paramount in whether United’s Premier League tally increases come May.
For many years, the flat midfield of Beckham, Scholes, Keane and Giggs worked to devastating effect as Scholes was able to push forward to score goals whilst Roy Keane was putting out fires ahead of the back four. With the supreme goal scoring ability of both Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole – a talent which both RVP and Rooney possess.
What Fergie holds delightfully in the palm of his hands is the same strategy and type of players which can replicate the magnificent achievements by those made some thirteen years ago. Michael Carrick is the Roy Keane figure in the middle of the park whilst a solid defence and an ever-improving David de Gea in net.
Every strike partnership has teething problems and whilst Yorke and Cole only managed to ignite their relationship in front of goal in a magical night in Barcelona in late November of 1998. The formidable wingers and vast depth up front including Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck, mirroring that of Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, mean it is almost an identical set-up for Ferguson a mere thirteen years on from one of the greatest nights in United folklore.
Could it be replicated?