Analysing Wayne Rooney's ineffective performance against Northampton Town
Goals from Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford sealed Manchester United’s passage to round 4 of the EFL Cup and avoided Jose Mourinho the horror of losing four games in a row, for the first time in his career.
The Red Devils did enough on the day to beat League One side Northampton Town, but still struggled and looked like a side short of confidence. Captain Wayne Rooney epitomised that with his display during the whole match.
Starting as a striker for the first time since May 7th, Rooney offered plenty of energy with his bursts of pace and his determination to close players down, but it was on the ball that the problems arose.
The England captain has one goal to his name this season and it showed on six minutes, when a cut-back from Ashley Young gave a glorious opportunity to the front-man, but he scuffed it wide with his left-foot.
Six minutes later, he was throwing himself to a ball he was nowhere near, again just not in the right place. The record England goal-scorer often found himself drifting into other positions to pick up possession and to seemingly force the play.
When he did deliver a ball, after drifting into wide positions, it was questionable. Rooney has only created 12 opportunities for his team-mates this season, and some of his deliveries that drifted out of play proved why. This was a day when he was supposed to be the man getting on the end of the crosses, after all.
The captain only wins 21% of his average duels with his opponents, and in this game, that stat proved almost crucial. In fact, after Rooney lost the ball on the edge of the area, Northampton Town broke up the other end and won themselves a penalty, which they put away to level the score-line at half time.
His game was perfectly summed up when he did get himself in the right place to took away a chance, only for his header to be ruled out rightly for off-side.
When Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford came on, Rooney was pushed out wide and disappeared for the remainder of the game. Even Ashley Young took-over corner duties.
He might have a season pass average of 85%, but the England captain carried on his theme in the EFL Cup against Northampton. Plenty of running and effort, but nothing really else paying off. The Rooney debate will rumble on, but for now Jose will just be happy to get back to winning ways.
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