David Moyes talks up 'leadership' of Wayne Rooney, after talisman accepts Manchester United midfield role in win over West Ham - Premier League - Football - The Independent

David Moyes talks up 'leadership' of Wayne Rooney, after talisman accepts Manchester United midfield role in win over West Ham

Wayne Rooney was quite happy to play in midfield for David Moyes on Saturday

A grinning Wayne Rooney lingered on the grass for a while and was the last man to leave the pitch, strolling away in easy conversation with Carlton Cole like he owned the place. This was a Rooney who had just spent the afternoon in midfield, precisely the location which antagonised him so much when Sir Alex Ferguson asked him to play there. The powers to recover the Rooney we once knew are the singular most remarkable aspect of the David Moyes era.

He has now made more assists – eight – than any other player in the Premier League this season and though the goalscoring has not quite reached the rapacious levels of Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero, the contribution has been more complete. Manchester United winning the battle to keep him has been every bit as significant as Liverpool holding on to Suarez.

“Do you know what I see more than anything in Wayne? I see leadership,” the United manager reflected after a 3-1 win which felt like a restoration of the old United, too, despite West Ham United’s anaemia. “I see somebody who wants to take responsibility for the team. I see somebody who cares for how he plays and how the team plays.

“Maybe if he is not quite at the top of his form, I will need him to drop in at times and he has no problem doing any of the jobs. He is getting to an age now where he realises he is not a boy any more. I think he is saying: ‘I have got to take responsibility for results and for performances and make sure the players are doing it on the pitch’.”

That felt like a fair assessment, though the entire balance of the team was transformed from the dismal defeat to Newcastle United of two weeks ago which left you wondering how Moyes might turn things around. The midfield four that day felt flat, old fashioned and ill-suited to Phil Jones – too immobile for that set up.

Saturday’s more flexible system – a less flat midfield quartet – played to Jones’s defensive prowess, allowing Tom Cleverley to head off and create with Rooney. Moyes quite reasonably said it was the best we had seen from his team in the Premier League. There was a tempo which has been missing before.

The opposition hardly permits a detailed critique of United’s central defence but in the 10th successive game without the Rio Ferdinand/Nemanja Vidic partnership there was a security about Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans, who has found his level after a difficult start to the Moyes era.

“I said to [Evans] I didn’t think he started the season well. But he has grown into it and is playing very well,” Moyes said. Smalling looked assured, too; beginning several of the counter-attacking moves which saw United burst out like days of yore. His quality on the ball creates a sense that he should seize it more.

Moyes is reaping the benefits of that onerous string of early fixtures he was so unhappy about, while others chasing top-four places are busy playing each other. United’s only uncertainties about Christmas have been logistical. They go to Hull and Norwich this week, and Moyes considered travelling directly between the two cities. He decided against it, reflecting that three days on the road would not have delighted his players.

Sam Allardyce has far more to worry about. It’s never great when your supporters sing: “You’re nothing special; we lose every week” and the West Ham manager’s suggestion that money is the issue – “where you actually finish in the league depends on the money you’ve spent. It’s a statistical fact that” – doesn’t wash. West Ham were 11th in the list of summer spenders, though wages generally dictate the finishing position.

“It makes no difference to me – other results. They are neither here nor there,” Allardyce was in the process of saying as he walked into his Old Trafford press conference. But though the return of Stewart Downing, Ricardo Vaz Te, Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll may, as he says, make a difference, other results are beginning to matter a lot. On Saturday, West Ham were dismal.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week