Rooney admits mistake on eve of Manchester United’s trip to Emirates

Following Manchester United’s win in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday night, Wayne Rooney uttered the words: “How wrong was I?” Clearly referring to his statement earlier in the season that his future lay away from Old Trafford, the England striker rather sheepishly admitted his mistake. Comparing the fortunes of his United career when he confirmed his desire to leave and the way the season could well end there is a stark contrast. Not only in the form of his club, but most of all in the form of the man himself.

Rooney’s fortunes really started to pick up in early March when he scored United’s only goal in the 2-1 defeat away at Chelsea. Not only was the strike worthy of his best form, the way he dictated play in the first-half especially was something near his best. The away win at Upton Park was when Rooney announced to the Premier League he was back and his performance against Schalke proved to the rest of Europe that United’s No10 is the real deal once more.

Much has been made of Javier Hernandez’s role in the resurgence of Rooney and it is certainly true that the Mexican is the ideal foil for the former Everton man. The darting runs of Hernandez enable Rooney to drop deep and orchestrate things with his full range of passing; however the return of both Antonio Valencia and Ji-Sung Park has also played its part. There is no doubting that Nani has had a tremendous season but his unwillingness to release the ball early clearly affected Rooney, whereas Valencia’s direct approach ensures a continuous supply of service. With Park returning United have a completely new dimension. With Rooney dropping deep and manoeuvring himself from the left flank, this enables Park to come inside and pick the ball up in front of the opposition back four. If Park pulls wide, Rooney drops deep and vice versa giving United fluidity and possession in dangerous areas. This was a real hit against Schalke with the movement too much for the Germans.

Travelling to the Emirates this weekend, Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping that Rooney can continue his good form against a team for which he often saves his best. With the Gunners coming off the back of a mentally crushing defeat at Bolton knowing that nothing other than a win will suffice on Sunday, United will be aware that with Rooney they can exploit the holes in the Arsenal back line and punish them on the break. Despite the fact the Gunners’ midfield is likely to contain three central players Rooney will be looking to dominate in this area. With Alex Song likely to be the only recognised defensive midfielder it is likely, if Rooney drops deep, that Arsenal will struggle to cope with him and his movement.

A win at Arsenal and another performance from Rooney will take him one step closer to his most influential season in a United shirt. It is no wonder both fans and player are glad his services were secured.

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