Rooney's injury opens new avenues for Sir Alex
Wayne Rooney’s nasty looking thigh injury at the weekend looks set to keep him out of action for four weeks.
If the striker is on the sidelines for a month, this will rule him out of Manchester United’s next three games in the Premier League and England’s World Cup 2014 qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
Whilst Roy Hodgson will need to figure out a Plan B for these games, the unfortunate setback in Rooney’s season will open new avenues up for Sir Alex Ferguson.
The lightning Bolt arrives
Old Trafford greeted Olympic gold medallists on Saturday, in the form of British long jumper Greg Rutherford and the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt.
Bolt is an avid follower of Manchester United and once again, stated his desire to be given a trial and play for the club.
He might be lightning and can run 100m in 9.63secs, but would he be any good on a football pitch?
Centre backs would be terrified of his sheer speed across the ground but Bolt admitted during the Olympics that he isn’t the hardest of workers in training, so I think Ferguson might just decide to not sign the Jamaican!
Bolt was in attendance to see the new £24m striking talent in the form of Robin van Persie.
The Dutchman scored inside 10 minutes on his home debut, sending a huge roar across the famous ground.
BBC commentator Guy Mowbray referred to it, being the loudest cheer at the ground since Rooney’s last-gasp winner against Manchester City in the Carling Cup semi-final, second leg in 2010.
Bolt would have been impressed by Van Persie’s finish from the stands and while he will probably remain just a passionate fan, RVP looks more than likely to become the new striking sensation at the Theatre of Dreams.
I wonder what Arsene Wenger made of it, as his Arsenal side limped to a tame 0-0 draw at Stoke 24 hours later.
The door opens for Welbeck and Hernandez
Even though Rooney’s absence will hurt United, Ferguson can’t complain about the amount of striking options he has to turn to.
Danny Welbeck recently signed a new deal to stay at the club and having made his international breakthrough this summer, he will be keen to get a place in the starting 11 on a regular basis.
Welbeck might not possess Rooney’s all-star quality but I would say that he works harder for the team, is quicker across the ground and carries a natural finish within his game.
He is more similar to Van Persie than Rooney. Ultimately, a Van Persie/Welbeck pairing could be a more fruitful partnership upfront.
Then, there is the pesky Mexican, Javier Hernandez who has such fantastic ability, he would walk into I’d say, 18 of the 20 teams in the Premier League and become the lead target man.
Niggling injuries restricted his appearances last season but he has a tendency to pop up and score crucial goals. Liverpool and Chelsea can vouch for that in the last ten months.
Also, could this mean that Dimitar Berbatov might remain with the club and get a look-in?
The Bulgarian is desperate to leave Old Trafford before the shutting of Friday’s transfer window.
Whilst a club is unlikely to rescue him from the nightmare of the bench, he might stick around, although I wouldn’t expect anything else other than meaningless games in the Capital One Cup.
Has Rooney pushed it too far?
I was surprised by Sir Alex’s decision to leave Rooney out of the starting 11 against Fulham.
Everyone expected him to be paired with Van Persie from the outset but it didn’t happen, as he experimented with a more attacking diamond, which featured Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley.
Some would say that Rooney might have pushed the limit, with more speculation about his future with the Red Devils.
Whilst this injury will mean no-one would dare to take him before Friday, we’ve seen Ferguson show the door to the likes of David Beckham, Jaap Stam and Roy Keane in the past.
I can’t see the Scot wanting Rooney to leave just yet, unless a Barcelona or Real Madrid came in with a similar bid that saw Cristiano Ronaldo leave the club in 2009.
Rooney seems to be a permanent fixture in the England set-up, but has he lost his position of being the first pick on the team sheet for his club?
For now, I would have to say yes, he has.
While everyone will want him to get back to fitness quickly, unless you support Southampton, Wigan and Liverpool (United’s next three Premier League opponents), Van Persie is the main man now at Old Trafford.
Although the chances of Bolt playing for Manchester United appear to be about as likely as RVP giving up football to become a sprinter, Ferguson does at least have plenty of options, which means that Rooney might not be as important to the club as he has been in the past.
By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88
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