Monday 24 July 2017

Peter Schmeichel wants a positional change for Wayne Rooney

Anthony Martial, right, is the man most likely to take Wayne Rooney's spot
Anthony Martial, right, is the man most likely to take Wayne Rooney's spot
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Peter Schmeichel has urged Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal to bring down the curtain on Wayne Rooney’s days as the Old Trafford club’s lead striker.

Rooney is close to a first team return after a spell out with an knee injury, but former United keeper Schmeichel is convinced he should not be deployed as a lead forward as he backed Anthony Martial to become the club’s central striking option for years to come.

While some have called for Rooney to be left out of the United side, the great Schmeichel believes the 30-year-old goal getter should be allowed to develop his skills as a creative player and carve a niche for himself in the attacking midfield role Paul Scholes once thrived in.

“Hopefully Martial is going to play in the No 9 position,” Schmeichel told Sky Sports. “I really, really want Martial to be the No 9 of Man Utd and then everybody knows.

“I think he plays well coming in from the left, but he is much more dangerous (in the central striking role). It requires people around him so he can play.

“Wayne can play in different positions. If you ask him, he wants to play in the No 10 position, but I’d like to see Wayne develop into a midfield player because he can play a little bit like Paul Scholes did. I am sure he can develop the engine to play in midfield.

“His vision and the way he sees football is really beneficial to the way that Manchester United should play. He can play the long passes, but he can also play the little balls, as we’ve seen so many times when he has been asked to play in other positions.

“He can tackle, he can win the ball back and he can defend, but Wayne has to want to play in that position.”

Schmeichel went on to suggest Van Gaal should focus on trying to steer his side towards a top four finish ahead of trying to win the FA Cup, ahead of their quarter-final replay against West Ham later this month.

Yet he is not convinced that United will be playing Champions League football again next season as he added: “Winning the FA Cup is nice, but it’s nothing compared to the Champions League, which is essential for a club of Manchester United’s calibre. They have to play in that tournament. If not, it’s a failure.

“It would be some achievement for United to get themselves into that fourth position, but I’m doubting it. Their performances shows a lot of limitations.

“You look at the bench now and some of the names coming back from injury and he has been forced to play in a certain way with certain players for a long time. Now they are coming back.

“Van Gaal will have choices now and can rest some of his players. He has not had that opportunity and let’s wait and see what happens.”

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