Why Wayne Rooney’s Intangible Qualities Are The Linchpin for Success at Manchester United

At times, this week’s Champions League encounter between Manchester United  and Bayer Leverkusen was a closely fought contest. But the difference in world  class quality ultimately made the contest a convincing win for David Moyes’ men  in the end.

And no one was more instrumental than the rejuvenated Wayne Rooney. The  player, subject of such intense media scrutiny and transfer speculation  throughout the whole summer, turned in a technically peerless performance to  suggest that he once again feels at home at Old Trafford. And didn’t the fans  just revel in the revival of their prodigal son. He received a richly deserved  and rapturous ovation when he was substituted.

Rooney’s contribution was tangible by two fine goals and an assist that  capped off a wonderful individual display on a night where the England man  joined an elite group of only four former players to score 200 goals or more for  Manchester United.

However, it is Rooney’s intangible qualities that will be just as crucial to  Manchester United as the measurable contribution of his goals and assists. He is  a natural born leader, a warrior of a player who embodies passion, desire,  determination and a commitment to the cause which has characterized United  greats of recent times from Bobby Charlton to Roy Keane to Eric Cantona.

Yet, despite spearheading the club for the past decade to a series of titles,  he still remains relatively unappreciated by some. But you can be rest assured  that Robin van Persie fully appreciates his partner’s contribution. Like the  fans, he too must be so relieved that Rooney is still pulling on the red shirt  of Manchester United, as without him there is no one else who has the capacity  to complement the genius of the Flying Dutchman. Witness the England star’s  sumptuous pass for Van  Persie’s goal of the season screamer against Aston Villa last season for  evidence.

Like those aforementioned luminaries of United’s rich heritage, Rooney — when  fit and in the right frame of mind — is the heartbeat of Manchester United’s  team, the sort of player who makes the current side far greater than the sum of  its parts.

Even with the addition of Marouane Felliani, United still probably have the  poorest midfield out of the Premier league’s elite. A classic case in point is  Tom Cleverley, who — although a solid Premier League player — would get nowhere  near the starting 11 of any other top four club. Yet he almost always plays for  the champions, who continue to churn out titles most seasons. This is in spite  of myriad observers; including many of the clubs own fans, who regularly bemoan  the squad’s lack of strength and depth and prudent transfer policy, which  incidentally has allowed the club to amass  a net profit of £146million from the twelve months to June.

But the sheer presence of players like Rooney rouses players like Cleverley,  and the rest of his teammates, to reach a new level. The effect of a rampaging  Rooney seizing the initiative and stamping his authority on big games is  contagious. It serves to inspire those around him to raise their game to a level  that may belie their actual ability.

This influence Rooney has on the rest of his teammates cannot be overstated,  which is one of the main motives why Mourinho pursued him so relentlessly  throughout the summer. The new Chelsea manager has a wealth of attacking  options, whose sheer talent and ability are all pretty much on a par with  England’s no. 10. But The Special One marvels in the immeasurable gifts of the  precocious forward and appreciates the effect these intangible traits have on  the collective morale and performance of a team.

Crucially, though, Moyes faith in the intangible worth of his 27 year old  talisman, which convinced Wayne Rooney to remain at Manchester United, may in  fact prove to be the most tangible difference in the title race this season.



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