Ever since United’s game with Real Madrid, the papers have been full of stories that Wayne Rooney is on his way out of Old Trafford, with PSG, Man City and Chelsea just some of his likely destinations. However, these reports are based on the fact that he was benched on Tuesday. Why he was left as a substitute is unknown, with some pundits suggesting that Sir Alex doesn’t trust him in the big games, in spite of the fact that Rooney has played in 14 out of United’s 16 games against the other members of the top 5 since the beginning of the 2011/12 season. This doesn’t show a lack of trust from his manager.
The reason he was left on the bench against Madrid was because of the system United played. Ferguson set up to be resilient and then to counter attack at pace. Pace is a trait that Rooney does not possess, so if he were to play, he would have to replace the talismanic Robin Van Persie. Although his recent form is questionable, Van Persie has almost single handedly dragged United through on many occasions this season, such as at St Mary’s with his sublime hat-trick. Welbeck and Nani possess a great amount of pace, and it really showed. United were in control and apart from a few opportunities, Madrid didn’t look like scoring. Welbeck had a couple of chances to score after breaking through, however he lacked the composure to finish. But that will come with time. Rooney was simply left out to avoid shoehorning him to a position that wouldn’t see him produce his best.