In Part-1, we looked at how Fergie is addressing the problem of United’s porous midfield. In Part-2, we look at the roles of Rooney, Kagawa and RVP
PR disasters aside, I see Rooney playing out his career at United. Spells of patchy form and injury aside, Rooney has been one of the most consistent players for United in the past five years. If he continues to play with the same responsibility he is now, he may even get the captain’s armband when Vidic retires. Inspite of that, the pressure was on Rooney at the start of the season because of his own fitness issues and Kagawa’s seamless entry into first XI
Kagawa played in the hole for two tough games against Everton (lost 1-0) and Liverpool (won 2-1) behind Rooney and RVP respectively. Against Everton, Michael Cox demonstrated on his blog how Rooney’s tendency to drop deep hindered Kagawa’s ability to thread balls through. Against Liverpool, Ferguson’s midfield duo of Carrick and Giggs meant United had very little of the ball before Shelvey’s sending off. Interestingly, Ferguson even shoe horned Kagawa into a midfield trio with good results against Newcastle.
Since Kagawa and Nani got injured, United have settled into a 4-2-3-1 formation which has brought wins against Chelsea and City. Rooney has successfully taken over the no. 10 role which allows him to drop deep and get more touches on the ball. This arragement helps United defensively as Rooney has the stamina to hustle and harry the defensive midfielder into errant passes. Rooney has benefited enormously by RVP’s movement up front and the understanding they have struck up will give Mourinho sleepless nights.
So if Rooney is undroppable and injury free, where will Kagawa play? At the moment, his best chance of squeezing into the starting lineup for the big games would be in replacing Young on the left. Whether playing as a left winger with defensive duties will bring the best out of Kagawa is yet to be seen. I hope that Ferguson finds a way, but his record with players of that ilk (Anderson and Park) is not encouraging.
3) Is RVP worth 20 million? ANSWERED
Unequivocally, unambiguously, unmistakably, yes. Even hardcore United supporters will admit that United’s football left a lot to be desired last year. As a staunch proponent of attacking football, Ferguson will have been stung by the media lapping up City’s Silva-inspired brand of beautiful football. Arguably, the X-factor in United’s football has been missing since Ronaldo’s departure. Not. Any. More.
RVP has taken the Theater of Dreams by storm. On current form, he might be the most complete striker in the world. The guy offers a triple threat- he’s in the box to get his foot on crosses; he can come deep to take his trademark long distance hits; or he can spring the offside trap a la Chicharito. He also offers a threat from set pieces as City found out to their cost. The attention he attracts from defenders and defensive midfielders has offered Rooney the kind of space to operate that he’s rarely had before.
RVP has brought this X-factor to the side along with two more old fashioned qualities- humility and team ethic. United blog, Republik of Mancunia, had a story in which Evra had this to say about RVP,
“When he scored the hat-trick at Southampton he also missed a penalty. The first thing he said when he came back to the dressing room was that he was really sorry for missing the penalty. That shows the hunger, humility and personality he has to win trophies. He is not just scoring for himself. He really wants the team to win something.”
To give Ferguson his due, most of his purchases have this quality, whatever the price tag (Exception: Tevez) If not, he drums it inot them. These qualities are extremely under appreciated in modern football and in my opinion, are the ones that have kept United successful over two decades. Teams like City and Chelsea who have won trophies on the back on singular, egotistic personalities like Tevez, Balotelli or Terry will find it hard to maintain their success with the distraction of controversy and disputes that come along with those personalities.