Rooney’s West Ham display shows Kagawa must be Man Utd’s number 10
Home-grown creative midfielders in the mould of a Mesut Ozil or David Silva are not particularly common in the English game and it is hard not to argue that Wayne Rooney has looked the closest resemblance to such a player since Teddy Sheringham.
That was at least until he faced West Ham, when Sir Alex Ferguson’s formation seemed set up for him to play off Robin van Persie in the chief creator position.
But rather than create, he spent much of the time too deep treading on the toes of the Red Devils’ more defensive midfielders. The fact he managed just a single touch in the West Ham penalty box justifies the point.
Rooney was eventually hauled off 20 minutes from time and this instigated a switch in some positions, with Shinji Kagawa moving in-field to the vacated space.
This paid dividends as Van Persie converted an equaliser from a rebound of a Kagawa shot that had struck a post and considering the Japanese schemer flourishes in the role of a number 10, it is difficult to fathom why he hasn’t occupied this position more often.
His dribbling and vision are his obvious strengths and his ability to take the ball on the run was arguably his greatest asset at Borussia Dortmund, when chief supplier to Robert Lewandowski.
He hasn’t had the same impact at Old Trafford, which is partly to do with the type of football played at Man Utd, but he should be given time to grow into the role.
Although Man Utd don’t totally embrace this position in the same way that Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal do, there is every likelihood that it will take on growing importance in the coming seasons.
With speculation that Rooney will leave Man Utd this summer as rife as ever, Kagawa could well prove Sir Alex’s secret weapon next season, with the Red Devils 6/4 to be crowned 2013/14 Premier League champions.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.