By Harry Mills
It has been a turbulent season for Wayne Rooney to say the least.
As Manchester United flirt with the possibility of a potential treble winning season, the one man who is capable of inspiring The Red Devils to a memorable campaign is Rooney.
Rooney may have only scored seven league goals this season but his presence on the pitch adds a different dimension to United’s game. His passing has been exquisite, his work rate has never faltered and his passion remains evident.
It was always going to be a difficult task to follow last season’s form having netted 34 times. The fact that Rooney didn’t make the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or 2010 was a travesty and must have been based purely on his World Cup performance alone.
Admittedly, it took the Number 10 until New Years Day to score his first goal from open play in the league, but United remained unbeaten at this point and Rooney was instrumental in ensuring this.
The goals of both Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez have reduced the pressure on Rooney to convert as often. This has allowed Rooney to collect the ball in deeper positions and dictate United’s attack and with numerous assists to his name; partnerships have been formed with both Berbatov and Hernandez who have thrived on his creativity.
Despite criticism of Rooney’s form, the ultimate fall point of his season came in October, when he signalled an apparent intent to leave Old Trafford.
Rooney destroyed the hearts of Manchester United fans when he admitted he would be prepared to join the “noisy neighbours” over at Eastlands.
But like a stray cat wandering home, he has been embraced into the arms of the Red Devils faithful and the signing of a new five year contract illustrated Rooney’s reservations were no more than temporary.
If there was ever any uncertainty, his stunning winner in Man United’s 2-1 defeat of City surely put the doubters to rest.
The January transfer window presented the opportunity for United to delve into the transfer market for another striker. Sir Alex Ferguson kept faith in his squad and despite defeats to Wolves, Chelsea and Liverpool; the Barclays Premier League is now United’s to lose.
In contrast, Chelsea splashed out £50million on Fernando Torres and Liverpool blew £35million on Andy Carroll.
It almost went unnoticed that local rivals Manchester City spent £27million on the purchase of Bosnian hitman Edin Dzeko. On arrival Dzeko boldly said: “I have heard a lot about the fans and that most of the people from Manchester are Manchester City fans.” He has followed these words by failing to net a single league goal for his new club, a trait he shares with both Torres and Carroll.
Meanwhile, Rooney has quietly gone about his business scoring five league goals since the beginning of February as well netting an FA Cup goal against Arsenal. He was sensational in United’s home 2-1 win against Marseille in the UEFA Champions League.
His sole goal so far this season in this competition is not close to reflecting his input. United face a resurging Chelsea in the quarter final and if Rooney can antagonise the Chelsea defence in the way he is capable, the fortunes of United’s season will be in his hands.
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Edin Dzeko’s quotes via BBC Sport.