After a man of the match display at The Britannia on Sunday, many feel that Wayne Rooney has now completed the transition from striker to creative trequartista.
That attacking midfield role, the instigator of creation needs to be someone more willing to provide assists, rather than get on the end of a cross in the six yard box.
They need to be willing to track back, put their foot in when called upon, whilst simultaneously sacrificing those attacking tendencies.
Rooney has made a career for himself scoring goals, as a striker. Successfully so I might add; he is fourth in United’s all-time top scorers list. Is that not reason alone to keep him where he is, rather than trying to force him into a deeper role just to solve our age old midfield dilemma?
We have tried gently persuading Paul Scholes to don those magical boots once again, but, as it has turned out, his knees aren’t quite what they used to be.
We have given Tom Cleverley time to bed himself in the first-team fold, and although he still has time to fulfill the potential Sir Alex sees in him, and may still become the finished article, at present he isn’t quite there yet.
Then there is Anderson – the perennial frustrator, who seems to have ‘turned the corner’ on several occasions, but always goes down the same path – starts the season well, finally justifying his inflated transfer fee, gets injured, and comes back twice as bad as he was before.
So this season, for want of an another option, our beloved chieftain has, on occasion, passed the creative midfield mantle onto Rooney, to reasonable success.
There is no doubting he has the attributes. He is more than capable of those long, ranging passes that Scholes made his trademark down at M16, his workrate is second to none, and is more than willing to play wherever his manager requires him to.
But why should a club of our stature and financial clout, who can attract any amount of talent from all corners of the globe, try and convert a proven goalscorer into a creative midfielder?
When he has played in that role alongside Michael Carrick, the England star has looked more than competent, but would he be able to resist staying too far forward, and instead of creating, being on the end of a move week in, week out?
His future has come under much debate of late, as his importance to the first-team has dwindled as a result of the summer arrival of Robin van Persie.
Fans were salivating at the thought of the frightening partnership that the prolific Dutchman, and Rooney tucked in just behind could provide.
At certain stages in the season this potential dream correlation of talent has threatened to take off, but has never materialised into anything permanent.
What the United faithful have to recognise is that the glory days of 4-4-2 are long gone. Populating the centre of the park is common practice, in Europe especially, and games are won by the side who overcome their opponents’ engineroom.
Football is more results-based than ever, and will only become more so with the added prize money as of next season, and therefore all-out, counter attacking formations have ceased to exist in the majority of sides.
When the two have played together, Rooney has been deployed in this attacking midfield role, and any direct link-up between him and the flying Dutchman has been somewhat stifled by the restriction of the formation.
Last season Rooney was imperious in front of goal, netting 34 goals in all competitions, the second season he has broken the 30-goal barrier in the red of United, but the far less impressive total of 16 this campaign shows how his role has changed in the side.
Despite his brief reluctance to sign a new deal at Old Trafford back in 2010, the former Everton youngster is a popular figure amongst fans, which is one of the reasons Sir Alex has tried to accommodate Rooney in his plans.
However, in the long-term, as our much-decorated manager always plans for, Rooney playing in any other role than up front, where he has made his name, will just be stifling incredible natural ability.
His man of the match performance on Sunday did get supporters of the Liverpudlian excited at the prospect of fulfilling the void the seemingly soon-to-be-retired (again) Scholes will leave, but in truth, it is never going to work on a permanent basis.
Stoke are a very poor side, and any of our gifted squad, playing in that role, entrusted with instigating attacks, will have excelled given the time Rooney was allowed at the Britannia.
To ask a player, who reveled for club and country in a forward role throughout his career, to undertake an unfamiliar new role just isn’t feasible when he is in the prime of his footballing life.
If this means he has to move on, then so be it, but he has to stick to what he knows, what he is good at, and the only position he will command a starting berth in any of Europe’s top sides – leading the line, up top.
Well, its worked so far hasn’t it?
This is obviously a separate piece to what Paul Rowles wrote yesterday. Where do you think Rooney should play and why? Everyone seems to be split on this one.