Wayne Rooney can save Louis van Gaal's job as Manchester United boss - Rio Ferdinand
Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand says that Wayne Rooney is the man to save Louis van Gaal's job after an improved display against Chelsea.
Rooney enjoyed one of his best games of the season against the Blues, although he missed an excellent late chance in the 0-0 draw on Monday.
The result saw United's winless run extend to eight games and leave them in sixth place in the Premier League, nine points behind leaders Arsenal.
But Ferdinand, who won six Premier League titles and the Champions League with United, believes Rooney can be the difference for the under-pressure Dutchman.
He also says that being dropped for the defeat at Stoke City will have acted as great motivation for the current captain.
"The performance of Wayne Rooney must have given [Manchester United supporters] hope," Ferdinand wrote in his column for The Sun.
"Rooney’s display reminded us of the player who used to light up English football — a player we have seen too infrequently under manager Louis van Gaal.
"And I reckon being dropped for the previous game against Stoke was the best thing that could have happened to him. When you are dumped on the bench it is a huge blow to your pride, as I learned from my own personal experience in the latter days of my career.
"You re-evaluate all aspects of your life. You examine your social habits, attitude to the game, application in training, your mental approach, absolutely everything.
"And if you have anything about you, you make a vow that the manager can never again have a reason to leave you out of the team. Wayne will have been hurt and desperate to prove a point.
"He didn’t score and was lucky not to be sent off for a nasty tackle on Oscar. But other than that, his all-round game was superb."
Ferdinand added that Van Gaal's reign has been littered with forwards who have failed to show their true potential.
Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez, Angel Di Maria and Adnan Januzaj have all struggled during different periods of Van Gaal's reign and none are currently at the club, although Januzaj is on loan at Borussia Dortmund.
The former United centre-back said that Rooney played with more freedom than he has done at any point this season.
"Rooney played with freedom against Chelsea and you could see how the team grew in confidence as a result," he added.
"He was coming off the centre-back to help link the play or spin round and mount an attack. Then he was drifting out to collect and hit those fantastic diagonal balls and, most importantly, he was getting in the box as well.
"Every time United had the ball, Rooney was finding space to make himself available. And, crucially, his team-mates were giving it to him with a forward pass hit at pace."
The former England defender says that Rooney, like other forwards under Van Gaal, have suffered because of the slow build-up and lack of chances created during the Dutchman's tenure.
"Rooney used to benefit from those [chances] himself, but there has been too little of that creativity during this Dutch regime.
"If Wayne has decided to take matters into his own hands then good on him — Van Gaal would be wise not to rein him in. This is a big year for the England captain. Euro 2016 could be his last shot at winning a major tournament with his country.
"And he will want to make a big mark on that stage to show he belongs among the world’s best players.
"He has it in him, there is no doubt about it, but many people are worried that his career is on the slide. Well on Monday he started to fight back, which can only be great news for United and England fans."
Independent News Service