As Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford to all but sealed a record breaking 19th League Championship, Sir Alex Ferguson bowed to an enraptured Stretford End before disappearing down the tunnel into the bowels of Old Trafford. As the fans jubilantly belted out ‘Are you watching Merseyside?’ Ferguson now stands very close to justifiably being able to claim victory in his long stated challenge of ‘knocking
Hailing from the blue half of Merseyside, Wayne Rooney will take every bit as much glee in his side’s feet as many a Mancunian, and his contribution in the final third of the season cannot be ignored. It has been a glorious return to form for a man widely casted as a villain for his poor World Cup showing, off field activities, poor start to the season, and his daring to question United’s transfer capabilities. While his image may be permanently tainted to some, others have taken delight in his recent performances that have seen him re-establish himself as a key man for his club and one of the world’s foremost players.
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The result and nature of Rooney’s run-in may be in stark contrast to last season, the bottom line remains the same: Manchester United are a much stronger force for having Rooney. Last season, having taken it upon himself to be United’s main man after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, his absence through injury saw them limp over the finish line behind Chelsea. Although far from the only eye-catching United performer in the latter stages of this season, it is his return to form that has been a huge relief for those concerned with United. After stuttering towards the end of 2010 with just two goals to his name, he exploded back onto the scene with a spectacular goal in the Manchester derby. Having rediscovered his scoring knack, the emergence of Javier Hernandez as a goal machine has also undoubtedly aided Rooney’s ascent, enabling him to take on a new role.
Although Rooney himself has always stated centre forward to be his favourite position, his performances in 2009/10 backing that up, his obvious abilities aside from goal scoring have always led onlookers to believe that he has more to offer. Despite Dimitar Berbatov’s goals in the first half of the season he never truly convinced, but partnered with Hernandez, a pure goal scorer on the frontline, Rooney is able to drop deep and let his natural skills come to the fore. The team undoubtedly looks more dangerous with this partnership. Performing the valuable task of linking midfield with attack, not always possible with the laconic Berbatov, he effortlessly sprays passes out to the wings, initiating attacks and creating opportunities for others aswell as contributing goals. Clich