In the Premier League, Wayne Rooney has been flat out dismal in front of goal this season. For a striker that has consistently been regarded as England’s best over the past decade, the question is why?
In Manchester United’s opening league fixture this season, Rooney was presented with what was in no uncertain terms, a sitter.
A ball in from the right found Rooney in acres of space to finish first time. Instead, he controlled the ball, and then hesitated.
In United’s loss against Swansea last weekend, the same situation repeatedly played itself out over and over again. Presented with one goal scoring opportunity after another, Rooney seemed to take an eternity to release his shot and instead he was robbed of possession.
Rooney has always been the type to put his foot through a ball as soon as the appropriate moment arrived however, it now seems that his nature has suddenly shifted and he has taken to dallying on the ball at the worst possible times.
The reason for this change is surprisingly simple. Van Gaal preaches a ‘philosophy’ in everything he does, and it seems that this even stretches into his striker’s finishing style.
The following clip comes from Manchester United’s tour of the US last summer. Although the footage is old, it gives a clear insight into Van Gaal’s specific shooting instructions and gives us a better understanding of Rooney’s current hesitation in front of goal.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s famed instructions to strikers were always to “hit the f****ng thing”. It seems reverting to that approach might suit the English talisman much better going forward.