Rooney shines in midfield role‎ for Manchester United

Man Utd 2 Otelul Galati 0

 

Wayne Rooney turned into a midfield star as Manchester United's slow rehabilitation from the day it still hurts Sir Alex Ferguson to think of continued.

On their first appearance at Old Trafford since being thrashed 6-1 by Manchester City, Antonio Valencia's eighth-minute tap-in and a late deflected effort from Rooney ensured United grabbed maximum points from their Champions League encounter with Otelul Galati.

It was hardly a command performance, but in rampaging right-back Phil Jones and Rooney - who netted his 27th Champions League goal from a starting position in central midfield - the home fans at least had a couple of happy memories to take away from a stadium where the ghosts in blue will linger for so long.

As the inclusion of Rio Ferdinand in place of suspended skipper Nemanja Vidic had been confirmed in advance by Ferguson, it was Rooney's starting position in midfield that attracted most attention.

It is an area of the field Ferguson has been urged to strengthen for two years and, in the wake of that "embarrassing" City "debacle" as Ferguson described it in his programme notes, those calls have reached a crescendo.

Whether there is a concrete idea formulating in Ferguson's mind remains to be seen.

However, there was clearly an intention to give Rooney a full opportunity to express his talents given Javier Hernandez was introduced when Michael Owen limped sadly down the tunnel after 11 minutes, the victim of yet another muscular injury.

By that stage United had already got their noses in front, with Rooney playing a significant role with the pass that released Dimitar Berbatov.

The Bulgarian released Jones on his outside, the full-back eventually cutting a cross back that bounced past Owen's near-post lunge and left Valencia with a tap-in.

It should have been the start of a goal avalanche against limited Romanian opponents, but United lost their way somewhat.

On a couple of occasions Berbatov was left frustrated as Hernandez stormed into the box but nudged the ball slightly too far in front.

Fabio embarked on an eye-catching burst from halfway, only to run out of room as another opportunity petered out meekly.

Without a point in Group C, Otelul showed limited ambition.

However, when a stray Nani pass rolled to Ionut Neagu, the young midfielder went for goal before Ferdinand could close in and brought an excellent one-handed save out of a previously underemployed David de Gea.

With Rooney operating as a virtual quarterback, sitting just in front of the back four and directing operations with a decent variation of passes, Hernandez and Berbatov attempted to gel.

Berbatov showed a nifty turn of pace to latch onto Hernandez's eye-of-the-needle through ball, but was unable to beat Branko Grahovac from an acute angle.

Hernandez could not beat the goalkeeper either with a shot on the turn after collecting Rooney's forward pass.

Soon afterwards, Berbatov blazed a shot over from Anderson's lay-off before the pair exchanged short passes, only for the Brazilian's goalbound effort to be booted clear by Sergiu Costin.

Rooney was next to try his luck with a curling effort from the edge of the box that failed to trouble Grahovac.

Yet that failure, in addition to the growing nerves at a succession of Otelul attacks that brought no reward, merely highlighted the problem of Rooney's use in midfield.

Sure he can adapt, as most top-class players would. His pass completion rate was of the level the watching Paul Scholes would be proud. One pass to Berbatov with the outside of his right foot was simply sensational.

But his absence from the forward line costs United plenty in terms of an attacking threat, even allowing for the abilities of those asked to do the job instead.

Jones's claim on the man-of-the-match prize strengthened with another probing right-wing raid that ended with Hernandez glancing a header over, then Berbatov turned away in anger as Nani ignored him and tried to beat Grahovac with an ambitious curling effort.

Not that Berbatov had anyone to blame but himself as he strode beyond the visitors' defence but blazed his shot into the side netting.

Adrian Salageanu's dangerous free-kick that bounced past half a dozen advancing team-mates and through to De Gea was further proof of United's perilous position.

Rooney ended the anxiety with a long-range effort that took a massive deflection off Sarghi three minutes from time.

PA

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?