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Wayne Rooney's Return Has Been Immensely Important to Dimitar Berbatov

Old Trafford Manchester United v Valencia Champions League Group C 07/12/2010 Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) gets away from Jeremy Mathieu (Valencia) Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Occasionally a player will rely upon another player so much that they’re less than half the player they could be without said player who compliments them so well. If you’re confused by that word amalgam, don’t be. Just make sure you watch Manchester United’s next match on Monday at home against Arsenal and pay special attention to the brew that has become United’s forward two.

In Tuesday’s 1-1 draw v Spanish side Valencia, Berbatov had the kind of night he may wish to soon forget, but it wasn’t because of a lack of service from those around him, specifically Rooney. Although he didn’t score and United failed to win, time after time, Rooney set up his Bulgarian teammate with inch perfect balls, flicks and passes into space as United first looked to draw level and then advanced looking for the winner in their last Champions League group stage match.

None will forget Berbatov’s five-goal performance from just two weeks ago, but just how many football fans noticed how heavily Rooney was involved in the build up? It was a masterclass from Berbatov in finishing but one could argue it was equally as fine of a performance from Rooney in the skill of passing and play-making – United’s Tuesday performance was similar in fashion without producing the same number of goals.

While many United fans will say that the Red Devils are far from their best, their ability to create decent chances against quality opposition such as Valencia at least witnesses them moving in the right direction. Since Rooney’s return and his easing back into Premier League and European football, the England striker has appeared in three full matches and as a late substitute in United’s 2-0 win v Wigan.

In those appearances, Rooney has found the net only once through a penalty in the Champions League yet his service has been borderline sensational. On Tuesday, United set up 4-4-2 which played out more as a 4-4-1-1 as Rooney dropped deeper into the space behind Berbatov who was highest up the pitch. Rooney’s link play coupled with the width that Nani on the left flank and United’s two Brazilian fullbacks (brothers Rafael and Fabio) were able to provide, witnessed the home side create viable chances that eventually provided United with the result they so desired.

Credit must go to Rooney who obviously wishes to score from open play but continues to carry extra weight until United secure a better creative central midfielder than Michael Carrick. Paul Scholes is a legend but will soon retire, Anderson is more of a work-horse and Darren Fletcher is a brilliant footballer begging to be paired with a player the likes of Xabi Alonso or Wesley Sneijder.

Until a player of that caliber steps up or until United splash the kind of cash no one is even sure they have, look for Rooney to remain the linchpin of United’s attack, regardless of if he scores or not.

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  1. Sunshine

    December 17, 2010 at 12:52 am

    I am proud of Wayne Rooney because he is showing a good attittude towards the matches and that is something that talks well about him, for that reason I admire him for his good attittude.
    Rooney is really a good player and he is playing very well.

    ¡Well done Rooney!

  2. Why?

    December 10, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Carl don’t wish to sound off but your third so called fact is anthing but!
    ‘fact joe rooney would get into any team in the world’ he would not this guys not scored in open play in 9 months (he’s a striker for god’s sake) and he’s looked poor in all but a couple of games. So I’m affraid your last ‘fact’ is just you seeing though red tinted spectacles.

    • Joe

      December 10, 2010 at 7:37 am

      Exactly. Also the fact that United are second…that’s really only because their last match was snowed out. I suppose it’s somehow Berbatov’s fault that it snowed?

      As for the rest of Carl’s comment, whatever. I’ll same my arguing for people who seem to have a grasp of the English language.

      • Joe

        December 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm

        SAVE my arguing! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! D’oh!!!

  3. carl

    December 10, 2010 at 4:42 am

    fact joe we are second fact joe man u are not a 1 man team fact joe rooney would get into any team in the world

  4. Joe

    December 9, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Look United fans, I get it. Rooney is your brightest young star, and after the miserable season he’s had so far, you’re rooting like Hell for him to return to form. You saw a glimpse of it vs. Valencia, and you’re excited. I get it.

    But there’s no need to throw Berbatov under the bus in the process. Where would you be right now without Berbatov, the leading EPL scorer? No way you’d be undefeated. You might even be below Spurs or BOLTON. He’s done a lot to make the team run smoothly despite Rooney’s absence, so why not be thankful for that rather than complain about a couple missed chances?

  5. carl

    December 9, 2010 at 6:01 am

    rooney is a lengend and dont forget people hes only 24 years to go. plus goal comeback is on monday, to go more points ahead in the league

    • Why?

      December 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm

      Yeah who knows he might even score another goal in the next 9 months a true leg end LOL.

  6. carl fowler

    December 9, 2010 at 5:58 am

    joe your talking crap

    • Joe

      December 9, 2010 at 10:52 am

      Explain how acknowledging the FACT of Berbatov’s league lead in goals is “talking crap”. Unless you have some problem with the EPL’s record keeping, there’s really no argument.

  7. Lee

    December 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    It is clear after that performance that rooney is the glue that holds manchester united together, time and time again he crossed perfectly for berbatov only for him to miss the net. Ferguson was unfased though due to having his star player in Rooney back, and btw did u see rooney’s awesome shot cutting inside from the left and curling into top corner only to hit the underside of the bar. I do feel though that Rooney is frustrated with berbatov’s poor finishing ability when he is setting him up time and time again

    • Joe

      December 8, 2010 at 10:18 pm

      You do realize that Berbatov leads the EPL in goals, right?

      • Lee

        December 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm

        Of course i realise that, but it doesnt make him the most natural finisher you’ll see. EPL playing against shit teams sitting on the last man with very good delivery from his team mates of course he is going to be near top with rooney out for most of the season thus far and them being just about top of the league. Sure he’s scored many goals but he has missed a hell of a lot of opportunities at the same time

        • Joe

          December 9, 2010 at 10:56 am

          Sure, Berbatov isn’t great. Very good so far, but not great.

          But suddenly Rooney, the man who cheated on his pregnant wife with a hooker, the man who took a giant dump on his team by saying they didn’t “match his ambition” only to take it all back a few days later, has one very good game and he’s God’s gift to football?

          • Lee

            December 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm

            Yes, he is now considered god’s gift to football because he is considered by everyone to be better than he actually is. i.e. Overrated

          • Joe

            December 9, 2010 at 11:04 pm

            Your response pretty much says exactly what I’m saying. Rooney is overrated.

  8. Thomas

    December 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    It’s good to see Berbatov playing a bit higher up and working more in the role of a poacher. Those two play so well together at times it’s disgusting.

    I think you’re finally seeing the two of them work out where to play, as last year you would all too often see Berbatov and Rooney both dropping deep to influence the build up.

    A side note: Everyone praises Arsenal for their free flowing game (and it is beautiful), but holy hell, some of the off the ball movement United have displayed at times this year is sensational.

  9. Joe

    December 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Hey not to change topic all the sudden (even though that’s exactly what I’m doing…) but can you direct me somewhere with video highlights or a torrent of the club world cup match today (Al Wahda vs. Hekari United)? All I can seem to find is the box score. Thanks!

    • Joe

      December 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

      by “you” I mean anyone. Thanks again!

  10. Chelsea fc

    December 8, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Although i am a chelsea fans, but i have to accept the fact that wanye rooney is a selfless striker, he is more of a team player, his infulence in a team is superb that is why he is wanted by host of team. If you watch man utd and england games constanly you will understand what i am saying. He was the one who contribute heavily to defoe recent hattrick, Rooney can link up with any striker in the world, he can play as a lone striker and a supporting striker. I was gutted on the day he sign his five yrs contrat with man utd because i was desperatly hoping to see him wearing the blue shirt just like maldrid, berca, man city and inter fans was hoping. Wanye rooney is the best striker in the world, After messi and cr7 i rate wanye the next.

  11. Patrick

    December 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    poor wayne… he pisses on your team, you all welcome him back and blame the other striker who just happened to have scored 5 in a match a few games back.

    The only recent Man U game I watched was West Ham dissecting your back line. A midfield with no formation ( that includes Giggs) and forwards that seemed to want to shoot on first touch. But according to you, there are no flaws in any Man U player… Paul Scholes,legend; Anderson,work-horse and Darren Fletcher is a brilliant footballer… all you need is Xabi Alonso or Wesley Sneijder. really?

    Please. You need three defenders not named Vidic.

    and then…

    Yeah Wayne Rooney. The world beater.

    Please. he’s fat he’s scouse he probably robed your house… WAYNE ROONEY.

    I have never liked this oxygen thief. I know the English media has picked him as the NEXT england star. but to quote Animal house.. fat drunk and stupid are no way to go through life.

    The man is thicker then the Saemangeum Seawall….

    What is there to like? his personality? his beliefs? his football? sadly the thing one would look most critically upon is his football.

    But you living in LA LA Red RED land would never see that…

    First mistake in wanna be journalism is being a fan boy.

    Jesse I like your writing as writing but you really discredit yourself when you write ONLY about the team you like. Its lazy and subjective and I don’t mean that to be harsh. But honesty.

    I really hope you don’t take this personally, Wayne Rooney is not as well liked as you may think. Nor as good. and don’t argue me on that. Put Rooney back on Everton, and he’s a decent football… but not on FIFA 11 adverts.

    Nasri is 10x the player Rooney is… has there been one Nasri post here?
    The guy is better then Messi now, better then Ronaldo… The best and he plays in the PL.

    just sayin.

    cheers cheers and elephant ears.

    • Troy

      December 7, 2010 at 11:54 pm

      Who pissed in Patrick’s cheerios this morning? C’mon, fess up you scoundrel.

      • patrick

        December 8, 2010 at 12:30 am

        I think I was rather honest, and subjective…

        Look I’m involved in more Rooney’s a wanker conversations then as him as a hero… and I know my fair share of reds… (oddly none form Manchester).

        but then again I wasn’t the guy who grassed them up when we won 4 nil… They win 1-nil at home and I get 20 emails, texts, and screen caps of the TV.

        so maybe I’m just bitter that Man U fans are front running whatevers.

        But My points V Jesse are valid. and he’d be raked over coals if this where a journalism class.


        just sayin

        • Jesse Chula

          December 8, 2010 at 7:26 am

          re: Patrick’s comments.

          I must say, it’s been sometime since I last commented on a piece of mine for a number of different reasons – I’ve been busy with other writing responsibilities, my full time job, etc.


          Patrick, you’ve got to be kidding yourself. I’ve written hundreds of articles for EPL Talk not featuring Manchester United. Ever read the Premier League Footballer of the Week column? Ever read one of my many articles concerning how the Premier League is viewed on TV in the states?

          I realize EPL Talk has a lot of writers and content can sometimes get overlooked quickly, but you really are left with your pants down if you think I only ever write about United.

          The F of the W has rarely featured a United player this year and always includes players from all 20 teams over the course of a season.

          I feel as if you just saw the headline, saw ‘Rooney’ in it and made your own selfish decisions based on what’s likely a very short memory.

          Am I wrong?

          If so, stick around, I’m not going anywhere. I’m sure to come up with some drivel about something other than a team you dislike.

          But thanks for the feedback, no worries.

          • patrick

            December 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

            Look… I think I was fairly clear that I like your writing, but find it lacking when you write about your own team.

            I also find it hard for anyone to be gushing about Rooney now. He’s played two three games since returning from the States? But that is my opinion and take it for what it is…

            This story didn’t even seem like it was written by you, it was more like a deluded Man U fan talking at a bar. And you can take offense to my objective criticism or you can get defensive. As this was not meant as a personal attack.

        • Dave C

          December 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm

          …if this where a journalism class… it’s not. It’s a blog, not the New York Times. Seriously, if you have problems with Man U fans writing about Man U players with slightly rose-tinted glasses, maybe you’re in the wrong place.

          • patrick

            December 9, 2010 at 5:37 pm

            really? See the thing is, I actually respect Jesse. I think he is a quality writer, but I just can’t stand when he writes fluff pieces on Man U. Its lazy and to easy.

            ohh nevermind I don’t know why I bother…

    • Joe

      December 8, 2010 at 12:02 am

      I don’t feel as strongly about it as you do, but I do agree that the Wayne Rooney hero worship is unearned and kind of icky.

      Sure, he played well today. Let’s leave it at that.

    • The Gaffer

      December 8, 2010 at 1:04 am

      Patrick, I wrote a piece about Samir Nasri on Monday for the Premier League Footballer Of The Week column.

      The Gaffer

    • Dave C

      December 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm

      You need three defenders not named Vidic
      What about Evra? Easily in the top two left backs in the EPL.

    • Dave C

      December 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm

      The man is thicker then the Saemangeum Seawall….

      What is there to like? his personality? his beliefs? his football? sadly the thing one would look most critically upon is his football.

      Wow you’ve obviously spent a lot of time with him in order to get to know him so well.

      • patrick

        December 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm

        nahh Haven’t hung with Wayne, but when he own team mates call him a chav or coatto in Italian as Macheda has, and looking back on his life choices, I’m pretty confident in that statement.

    • Premierleaguered

      December 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm

      “You need three defenders not named Vidic”
      Then what do think about Ferdinand , Evra ???? Youngsters like Smalling ,Evans , Da Silva Twins ??

      Against West Ham ,United’s youngsters were poor ,one bad result doesn’t mean they aren’t of United’s quality .Remember ,they were the one who won the Carling cup for United in the past 2 season.

      Our midfielder’s are poor ,but what makes you think that our midfield lacks formation???? This is the midfield which bet Arsenal convincingly in Emirates last season n it also bet them at OT.

      You need to think about your GOALKEEPER n DEFENDERS as u have the world class Almunia n Fabianski …..

      • patrick

        December 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm

        I’m no Arsenal fan…

  12. brett

    December 7, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    “Occasionally a player will rely upon another player so much that they’re less than half the player they could be without said player who compliments them so well.”
    sounds exactly like messi when he plays for Argentina. Greatest player in the world my bum, not even the greatest on barcelona, xavi is.

    • Joe

      December 7, 2010 at 11:57 pm

      Completely disagree. When he’s at his best, Messi is a one-man wrecking crew who makes his own chances and finishes them. Today he came in at the 60th minute to play with basically the B squad. Though he didn’t score, the whole tone of the Barça attack changed when he entered. He was instantly dangerous, and a Rubin side that had a fighter’s chance at a tie spent the rest of the game chasing him around their final third.

  13. The Gaffer

    December 7, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I also got some clarity when watching today’s game. What I saw was a Wayne Rooney who was in top form, delivering perfect crosses and passes but then I had the realization of how important teamwork is.

    If Berbatov misses most of the chances that Rooney delivers to him on a silver platter, it reflects poorly on Rooney even though Wayne has nothing to do with it. If Berbatov scores a hatful from those same chances, then Rooney is lauded. And so on and so forth for the other members of the team.

    Hats off to Rooney for a superb performance today.

    The Gaffer

    • Carmello

      December 7, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      I’ll use a basketball analogy to go along with what you’re saying Gaffer:

      Even though Rooney could be compared to Michael Jordan in talent more than Berbatov could, it’s amazing to see that Rooney has a part of him that is like Scottie Pippen. Pippen would have been a good player apart from Jordan, but he became the perfect backbone to Michael Jordan. Rooney is the same way to this United team. Like Pippen, he’s unselfish and many times recognizes that in order for his personal success, he needs to be willing to work with teammates like Berbs. But, like Jordan, he can take the game by the scruff of the neck and absolutely annihilate all competition before him.

      Mash up Pippen and Jordan and you got your self a Rooney.

      • Patrick

        December 7, 2010 at 11:43 pm

        Rooney is NOT Jordan.

        not even close.

        He’s not even Scottie Pippin

    • Nick

      December 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm

      I completely agree, I was surprised that nobody was mentioning it on the forums anywhere yesterday. Rooney’s performance seemed to be overlooked even though he was clearly man of the match. I was surprised at just how well Rooney has played these past two games in a forward midfield role, he’s provided excellent service, incredible crosses and if he’d have landed that goal yesterday it certainly would’ve made headlines as it was near perfect.

      Let’s hope with his increasing form that Arsenal will be his coming out party.

  14. Carmello

    December 7, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I watched the United v. Valencia game this afternoon and said the SAME EXACT THING to my friend watching with me. I’m a Spurs fan and used to LOVE watching the link up play between Berbatov and aNOTHER number ten…Robbie Keane. (You’re probably wondering why I was watching United and not Spurs this afternoon… but it was the difference between watching United in HD here on MSG+ on the East Coast… or watching Spurs in, as my friend and I call it, “Iraqi-Definion” on or one of the many other illegal streams available…)

    I was not surprised this afternoon, or during Berb’s five goal haul, to see how influential Rooney was in ALL of Berbatov’s success. It’s clear, given the lack of Berb’s goals while Rooney was away, that Berbatov needs that smaller, influential quick man to do all the running and passing, while Berbatov does excellent hold-up play while slicing through defenses with the most lackadaisical talents.

    All of this to say that everyone thinks Robbie Keane hasn’t been the same since heading to Liverpool and back, but they’re wrong. He hasn’t been the same since Berbatov left. Hats off to Berbatov in finding a replacement…

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