Can Rooney Get Back on Track?

It is no secret that Wayne Rooney has been out of form for Manchester United in the Premier League so far this season. When looking at his overall stats for the season, 5 goals in 11 games doesn’t look too bad, but when you consider that 3 of those 5 goals came in 1 UEFA Champions League qualifying match against Club Brugge, his goals-to-game ratio looks slightly more worrying. Rooney’s solitary goal in the Premier League came against bottom-placed Sunderland, and even then it was not a cool finish which we have come to expect from Rooney, it looked more like he fell into the ball and luck came his way.

Out of luck. Rooney desperately needs a goal to gain some confidence.
Out of luck. Rooney desperately needs a goal to gain some confidence.

After missing the international break with England with an ankle knock and with a trip to boyhood club Everton up next for United, Rooney needs to step into gear. The new signing, 19-year-old Anthony Martial cannot be expected to be the only consistent goal-scoring striker at the club.

Rooney’s lack of form is not only a headache for himself, manager Louis Van Gaal must be frustrated at the lack of finesse shown by the England and United captain. In fact, a recent stat has shown that Rooney has not created a single goal for the Red Devils in the league this season, but Van Gaal can safely defend himself by saying that he is playing Rooney where everyone wanted him to play, not in midfield but in front of goal.

After claiming his award for becoming the leading England goal-scorer of all time at Wembley on Friday, Rooney may have been given a confidence boost. There is no doubting his ability or commitment to the club, and Sir Alex Ferguson, who knows Rooney more than anyone, told ESPN that Rooney’s lack of goals comes down to confidence. “All the strikers I had, everyone relied on their confidence, when they were scoring they think they can never stop,” Claims Ferguson, “When they’re not scoring they think they’re never going to get a goal, it’s a fact.” The ex-Reds manager has no doubt in his mind that Rooney will get back to his scoring best when saying “I think we’ll have to wait. It’ll happen. (Rooney will) go on a run, don’t worry about that.”

Martial has been in great form since his move from Monaco, but can he be expected to be the main goalscorer at such a young age?
Martial has been in great form since his move from Monaco, but can he be expected to be the main goalscorer at such a young age?

So, if Fergie thinks that it is only a matter of time until Rooney starts to score again, should United fans feel relaxed in the knowledge that their captain will get back into form? Or should they be worried that the club only has three ‘senior’ strikers (Rooney, Martial and James Wilson), two of whom are 19-years-of-age. With new reports claiming that Wilson may be going off on loan to Celtic in the January transfer window, United need Rooney now, more than ever, to get back to his talismanic best, and to prove to fans and staff alike that he deserves the captaincy of one of football’s most historic clubs.

Anthony Martial – Can He Keep This Up?

On 1st September 2015, it was announced that Manchester United had signed a 19-year-old French striker from Monaco for £36million, possibly rising to £58million. Of course, the footballing world went into meltdown. The most expensive teenager ever had only scored 11 goals in his 49 appearances for Monaco, yet Louis Van Gaal deemed it appropriate to splash an extortionate amount of cash on a relatively unknown prospect. 11 days later, the young Frenchman came on as a substitute for Juan Mata in the 65th-minute against bitter rivals Liverpool and scored United’s third goal with a beautiful run and finish past Simon Mignolet. Martial’s debut goal was not only voted as United’s goal of the month for September, but was also the catalyst for a red-hot start to his career in a Red Devils shirt.

Anthony Martial has been on fire since his £36million move to United.
Anthony Martial has been on fire since his £36million move to United.

Eight days later, after being given the nod for his first Premier League start, Martial scored twice against Southampton at St. Mary’s to yet again prove to his doubters that he has the ability to tear-up Premier League defences. After getting his fourth goal in four starts for United against Ipswich Town in the League Cup, Sir Alex Ferguson praised him by stating that he “can do anything”; this should not be taken lightly, Fergie does not throw compliments for players around freely.

Martial received the man-of-the-match award after his brilliant full team debut against Denmark.
Martial received the man-of-the-match award after his brilliant full team debut against Denmark.

After making his first full team debut for the France national team, Martial was given the man-of-the-match award after setting up Olivier Giroud for his goal in the fourth minute with a perfectly-balanced, seemingly-effortless through ball and impressing throughout with a great display of attacking football from the left-wing. Despite spurring some relatively simple chances from inside the box, Martial gave his doubters something to think about, and he has certainly done no harm to his appeal for a regular starting berth both at Manchester United and France, especially with the European Championships coming up next Summer.

Although he showed such promise and maturity in his game, it is important to remember that the boy is only 19-years-old, therefore we cannot expect this form to continue for the whole season. Memphis Depay is in a similar situation to Martial (a young prospect coming from a foreign league with a lot to prove), yet hasn’t made the same impact as the Frenchman after recently admitting that he is struggling with the physicality of the Premier League. Surely Martial cannot keep up with the strenuous nature of the Premier League, and with the European Championships just around the corner, there is real danger that he could burn out, much like Javier Hernandez did at the start of his United career after playing almost non-stop for the first 2 seasons.

However, if he can keep up his impressive goalscoring record and committed attacking football, Martial has a real chance of making the number 9 shirt his own. With Wayne Rooney struggling to find any form in recent weeks, he is the man United are relying on to bring them goals. Although that is a lot of pressure for a young Frenchman a foreign country, he clearly has the support of his manager and after his goal against bitter rivals Liverpool, he has most certainly has won many fans over. United fans will be hoping he can keep up his blistering start to the Premier League and continue it for years to come; there will of course always be doubts about his price tag, but as long as he his scoring and playing well, it is a mere minor detail.