Does The Cluj Win Show That Rooney And van Persie Can Be Cole & Yorke Mk ll?

There's been little sign that United's two main strikers have been able to form a partnership, until yesterday's Champions League win that displayed the potential in their link-up play...
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There's been little sign that United's two main strikers have been able to form a partnership, until yesterday's Champions League win that displayed the potential in their link-up play...

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When Manchester United announced the signing of last season’s top scorer in Robin van Persie, fans and critics alike were salivating at the potential strike force Sir Alex Ferguson could deploy by playing the Dutchman alongside talisman, Wayne Rooney. In reality, however, Van Persie has been the focal point of the United attack, while Wayne Rooney has found himself sidelined through a combination of injury, poor form and, in the minds of some, sheer bad luck. Rooney has appeared to struggle to get back into the fold.

It seems there is too much pressure being placed upon him to oust van Persie from the limelight after the Dutch star’s flying start. It would be foolish to expect both forwards to hit 25-30+ goals each in the coming campaign: this isn’t Messi and Ronaldo ripping apart mediocre defences in the ‘SPL-replica,’ La Liga.

Against FC Cluj, Rooney was deployed in a deeper role behind the attacking pairing of van Persie and Hernandez, and this is where he is destined to shine. Adept at playing the forward role as he is, Rooney has a creative streak that has gently flourished having spent a good six years playing alongside the English game’s best playmaker in Paul Scholes. Ergo, play Rooney deeper and allow him more space on the ball. In terms of out-and-out forward play, van Persie is the superior, so resolve the conundrum by allowing both players to excel at the same time.

Though van Persie knows the Premier League, Rooney knows Manchester United.

Ferguson learnt this lesson the hard way on the weekend. Against Tottenham, Rooney was left out of the side. United, toothless in attack and two goals down at the break, introduced him at half time and dominated Spurs with Rooney to the fore. He demonstrated to Fergie that for all Kagawa's qualities and potential, there is still no one as effective in his squad when it comes to exploiting the space in between midfield and defence.

Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 Wayne Rooney has enjoyed a talismanic role at Manchester United: largely, when he plays well, the team plays well. He scores, he creates and he can dictate a game. With a few below-par appearances at the end of last season seemingly carrying over into this one, Rooney has found himself dropped in favour of van Persie. It would be a very blinkered supporter to suggest that it would be for the good of the team to drop the England international, when it is simply a case of complementing the two players, rather than demanding they compete for goalscoring responsibility.

Though van Persie knows the Premier League, Rooney knows Manchester United. Having been a near-permanent fixture during his tenure with the club, and the heartbeat of Ferguson’s attacking intentions, there is no better player to help the Dutch ace become familiar with the rhythm of United’s play. Though, the way van Persie has been scoring, some may argue he needs little assistance in that department.

Still, after the victory over Cluj, in which a certain Wayne Rooney assisted both of Robin van Persie’s goals, there are some positive indications that the Rooney/van Persie partnership is beginning to bloom into life.

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