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Rooney vs. Van Persie – Who Will United Rely on More?

As the new season approaches it seems that United fans around the globe are still divided over United’s number 10 and number 20, aka Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie.

Which one is the greatest goal threat? Which player does more for the team? Who is more likely to contribute on a consistent basis? These are all questions that regularly part the Old Trafford crowd. However, under Louis Van Gaal’s new regime at United perhaps one should not be asking who is better, why not ask, why not both?

Last term David Moyes elected to put his faith in the Dutchman, leaving Rooney in a deeper role behind the striker. Whether down to either a tactical approach; a belief that Van Persie posed more of a goal threat; or a lack of confidence in the Rooney’s discipline, is now neither here nor there. These days it’s Louis Van Gaal who’s the main man in the Old Trafford dugout bringing with him a whole new tactical approach. However, if by any chance the Dutchman is trawling TBR for my advice on what to do, let’s give him the pros and cons of the ones they call Wazza and RVP.

Robin Van Persie:

When the Dutchman came to Old Trafford in 2012 it was a move out of virtual necessity. United had broken their rule of signing ‘older’ players after a season where the blue half of Manchester had dominated, eventually winning the league and beating United 8-1 at Old Trafford in the process. Ferguson and his players needed an instant impact and they certainly got it with Robin Van Persie who went on to score 28 league goals, win the Player of the Year award at Old Trafford, and ultimately claim the Premier League trophy.

Yet, the following season the former Arsenal striker’s impact was hampered by injury. The season earlier Van Persie had made the maximum number of league appearances, 38, however in 2013/14 he only made 21, missing a crucial six week period towards the end of the first Moyes campaign in the process.

Herein lies the most visible problem of United’s £22.5 million man. He is a world class striker, proven at the highest level, yet his susceptibility to injury dominates his game. In a perfect world Robin Van Persie is the better number 9, his finishing is superb and he rarely misses a chance. However, a perfect world it is not.

Wayne Rooney:

In comparison, Rooney has been at Old Trafford now for 10 seasons and has amassed a total of 216 goals in 442 appearances leaving him third in United’s all time top scorer list. Whilst blips along the way have left people questioning his commit to United off the pitch, his commitment on it has never been in doubt. His ill disciplined nature of old is now gone and in its place is a passionate player who seemingly just loves playing the game.

However, United’s number 10 has his critics. Often levelled against Rooney is the fact that he has perhaps never fulfilled the high levels of promise first shown as a youngster at Everton. If one is to compare him with his former United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney’s impact on the world stage looks negligible given that when Ronaldo first came to Old Trafford it was Wayne Rooney who was the golden boy.

Nevertheless, such criticisms are perhaps a bit harsh. For want of a better expression, Wayne Rooney is a marmite player. When not on top form he can be a frustrating player to watch on the field however, when on form there are few like him. Whilst Messi and Ronaldo are battling out for the Ballon d’Or year in year out, United’s number 10 can be seen all over the Old Trafford turf looking for goals at one end or tracking back to help his full backs at the other.

Given this summation it would seem that Wayne Rooney represents the player of most importance. Van Gaal’s decision to give the Englishmen the armband over his former Dutch captain says as much. Nonetheless, Van Persie should never be discounted. If the Dutchman can get through the season unscathed by injury he will be just as important to United’s chances as Rooney.

What is even more promising however is Van Gaal’s formation, 3-5-2, meaning that both Rooney and Van Persie will in fact being playing alongside one another. This system is beneficial to the both of them as they both thrive when playing with a strike partner, and with Juan Mata playing just behind, the forward line at Old Trafford looks like a very dangerous prospect this season. In this respect therefore, it is perhaps the right time to put a lid on the incessant Rooney versus Van Persie debate by concluding that two is better than one, and both are more than vital for United’s chances this campaign.

With Wayne Rooney as newly appointed club captain and Van Persie as Van Gaal’s old captain for the Dutch national team, who will Manchester United’s manager rely on more in the coming Premier League season? Let us know what you think in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .

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