Tuesday 16 January 2018

Wayne Rooney has not had a shot on target in 2015 for Manchester United

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney hasn't hit the target in 2015
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney hasn't hit the target in 2015

Simon Rice

Wayne Rooney has not had a single shot on target in the Premier League in 2015. It covers six Premier League games and 450 minutes of football.

It is an incredible statistic for a player 25 goals short of Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time Manchester United record of 249 goals.

The lack of a shot on target this year is also in stark contrast to his beginning to the season in which he scored 13 goals for club and country before the turn of the year.

Heat maps have shown Rooney failing to get high up the pitch in recent weeks with his manager Louis van Gaal opting to use his captain in a midfield role rather than as a striker. The Dutchman explained after last night's 3-1 win over Burnley that deploying Rooney further back brings "balance" to his side - but is he making the most of one of his best assets?

Rooney remains Manchester United's second highest scorer this season with eight goals - two behind Robin van Persie. Huge outlays on alternative attacking options Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, those currently being used further forward, have reaped just eight goals between them.

Data from Whoscored.com shows that this season Rooney has been used as a central midfielder on 12 occasions - during which he has scored three goals and produced one assist.

Three times Rooney has played as an attacking midfielder, five times as a centre-forward and once on the left of a front three. In those nine matches further forward he's scored five goals and created three more.

Across the season so far that equates to a goal return of 0.25 goals per game when used in central midfield and 0.56 when used further forward.

Whoscored.com also produces a rating for each player which factors in all elements of their game. Rooney's scores higher than any other Manchester United forward from an offensive point of view. Angel Di Maria is next, followed by Robin van Persie - indicating that Rooney is the best attacking player at Old Trafford this season.

Van Gaal appears to recognise as such judging by his comments last night - but at the same time appears likely to persist with using Rooney in a deeper role.

"Maybe he can better play in a striker's position," said Van Gaal. "...but then I have a problem in midfield."

But if Rooney continues to fail to find the target, Van Gaal could find himself having even more problems.

Independent News Service

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