Rooney criticism wide of the mark

One thing that has stuck out in particular to me in the post match reaction of Wednesday night’s thrilling Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Manchester United is the criticism of Wayne Rooney.

Now, I don’t particularly like Rooney but I believe that the criticism being hurled at him is well wide of the mark. Looking round message boards and comment sections many were calling the England international ‘overrated’ and ‘not a big game player’.

What exactly are these comments based on? Wednesday night’s game?

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson chose to play Rooney out of position, on the left wing, to act as a second left back to nullify Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact on the game and provide assistance for Rafael. Despite Ronaldo scoring, United were able to earn themselves a very credible 1-1 draw which gives United an excellent chance at advancing to the next round of the competition.

Rooney put in a typically tireless shift, working hard all over the pitch for 85 minutes before being substituted for Anderson. Was it not Rooney’s corner which led to Danny Welbeck’s opening goal, too?

You need only look at the honours that Rooney has won with United to understand how ridiculous the claim that he is ‘overrated’ is; a Champions League medal, four (count ’em) League titles, two league cups and over 150 goals for a club that is considered one of the best and most successful in the world.

He may not be in the same league as Ronaldo or Lionel Messi but, let’s face it, who is? They are two of the football players this, or any other generation, has ever seen and comparing Rooney with them is slightly unfair.

At international level Rooney has delivered consistently, too, and recently moved into fifth on the list of top England goalscorers at the age of 27. England’s failures at major tournaments are more down to collective poor performances (and management) as opposed to individual ones.

And for those who think Rooney is ‘not a big game player’, did he not score a vital brace in the Manchester derby earlier this season against Manchester City which helped United to a crucial victory giving them a lead atop the Premier League that has now been extended to twelve points with only 12 games left to play? Yes. Yes, he did.