Wayne Rooney filled several roles during his Manchester United career but felt his best years were as a No 9 despite many feeling his spell alongside Cristiano Ronaldo was him at his best
Wayne Rooney believes his two seasons where he took on a central goalscoring role as Manchester United’s No 9 were his peak years.
That former Red Devil spent over a decade at Old Trafford – leaving as their all-time record goalscorer. During his spell in Manchester Rooney took on several different roles as his game developed throughout the years. I have played in a hugely successful side that also featured Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.
The trio helped United claim European glory in 2008, but 12 months later both Tevez and Ronaldo had moved on. Many believe the trio to be among the best in recent memory with Rooney playing a key role. But the Evertonian feels as though he reached his highest level without them as he became the central figure in attack.
He told Sky Sports: “I always loved playing in behind Tevez, van Persie, van Nistlerooy but during those two seasons when I played solely as a number nine, we did not have a striker and those two seasons were my best in terms of goalscoring If I wasn’t involved in the game, I would always be running back and looking to tackle a full-back that had come forward just to get myself involved in the game.”
The year after Ronaldo and Tevez exited Rooney enjoyed the best goalscoring season of his career, notching 34 times in all competitions. It was also the season in which he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year – the only time he received the award.
As his career went on Rooney gradually slipped away from being a forward and dropped into midfield. His passing ability of him meant the transition was a simple one and, even though he admits himself being a striker was him at his best, he enjoyed the added responsibility. He said: “I was probably better as a nine but I would often feel like there was more to my game if I dropped deeper.”
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
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Sir Alex Ferguson has previously confessed that, when he spent a then-record amount on Rooney in 2004, he didn’t acquire a player he thought was a natural poacher. Instead, it was his all round ability that saw them pursue the teenage sensation who had risen to fame at Euro 2004.
“We thought more of him as a footballer,” Ferguson said in an interview with ITV Sport. “We didn’t reckon that he was an absolute out-and-out goalscorer. The evidence wasn’t there for that, he was an outstanding footballer and that was the reason we wanted him.”