Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney 'is better than Robin Van Persie in the box' - Lou Macari

The England striker has been asked to play in midfield a lot this season

Manchester United's former player and respected analyst Lou Macari says that Wayne Rooney is a better penalty box finisher than Robin van Persie and should be deployed as a striker, rather than drift into a midfield role which will frustrate him.

Rooney has operated as an ancillary player since Van Persie's arrival last summer as the preferred front man, and though the Englishman has scored 15 goals, Sir Alex Ferguson suggested at the weekend that he views him as an option behind the striker. Rooney, who has operated in midfield more this season, drifted into a deep-lying position when he started against Chelsea on Sunday after being left on the bench against Real Madrid last week.

Macari said: "He has got such a football brain and you can throw him in there, in midfield. But I just take the view that if you've played in midfield all your life you know what it's all about. It requires a lot of energy up and down the pitch. There's no break for you. Is Wayne capable of doing that week-in, week-out? I don't think so. He is used to being up front and he is at his very best inside that box.

"When the ball drops for him I would back him to score even over and above Robin van Persie. I would back him to put the ball in the back of the net given all sorts of opportunities inside the box. He is a goalscorer, that's where he wants to be. And if he goes a number of games without scoring he gets a little bit frustrated, a little bit annoyed and sometimes his game goes to pieces a little bit. Up front is his position."

Both Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick have rejected the excuse of fatigue which Ferguson offered for the side's anodyne second half display which left them lucky to escape with a 2-2 draw against Chelsea in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final. "It has been a tough week. But that is not an excuse," Carrick said. "We want to be playing more big games because it would mean we had got through. We just couldn't see it out."

Ferdinand described the Carrick pass from close to the centre circle, which Javier Hernandez converted for United's first goal as the "ball of the season" and described the 31-year-old midfielder as "the most under-rated and under-valued player" in the league. "He is valued highly by our squad, don't worry about that," Ferdinand said. "No-one [could play a pass like that]."

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