Manchester United fans will tell you that Paul Scholes actually started his career as a striker. And a very good one at that. His debut season in 1994-95 brought 7 goals in 25 games and the following season he banged in 14. Scholes was a venomous striker of the ball and one of those players who always seemed to know where the goal was.
He moved back into the midfield at a fairly young age for Manchester United. Roy Keane was injured in 1997-8 and a 23 year old Scholes started his reincarnation as a midfielder.
It’s been said on many occasions that Wayne Rooney has a similar skill set to The Ginger Prince. He’s got a wonderful football brain, a great shot on him, the warrior instinct and a lovely range of passing.
And with Manchester United’s squad now so top-heavy we may well start to see Rooney moving back toward the midfield. Sure, he wants to play as a striker. And there have been rumours about his short passing game not being up to scratch if he wants to be a top midfielder. But neither of those ideas really float.
He’s easily a good enough passer, long and short, to be a top creative midfielder. And he seems to have lost that explosive pace that gave him such an advantage as a striker in his earlier career. So he may be better deployed as a creator.
In terms of his desire to play up top, his greatest goal has always been to win trophies. If playing deeper makes this team successful again then you can be sure he will be enthusiastic about it.
The only apparent weakness in his game, when he has played in the middle for United, is that he can get caught in possession. But that’s just a lack of familiarity with the role. Better use of peripheral vision and awareness of what’s around you can be coached.
If Manchester United are to somehow shoehorn Mata, Di Maria, RvP and Falcao into the team then perhaps it’s time for Wazza to retreat into a midfield role. He’d be a marvellous addition to it. And he’s played so much football – pretty much non stop at the top level since he was 16 – that his career may well benefit from, and be extended by, a role in the hub of the team, creating for others, playing beautiful through balls and keeping things ticking along at pace.
The same argument applies to Rooney at international level and we can easily imagine him becoming a midfielder for both club and country.
Manchester United fans: can you see Wazza in midfield in the latter stages of his career?