Date: 23rd July 2008 at 8:31pm
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Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that he often sacrificed Rooney’s individual talents and held him back in the interests of the team. Could this possibly mean that he’s going to unleash him now?

There was a lot of focus on Rooney as his campaign was not exactly prolific though 14 goals and 12 assists in 26 Premiership starts is highly satisfactory, especially as he had lot of injury problems. Still, England seem to expect he would demolish teams single-handedly – not an unrealistic expectation, given his talents, but a misunderstanding of the role he’s often given.

Rooney, more often than not, was the real engine of the team, the one who was pulling the strings. And he was asked to do a lot of work, to run, to do defensive duties, to serve up everything nicely to Ronaldo. He did this without complaint and did this to great effect: he played a greater role last season than many would think.

The question is, that with the arrival of another striker, possibly Berbatov, will Fergie finally unleash Rooney and give him the freedom he would thrive on? He admitted restricting Wayne which, for me, signals that he tends to compensate him for it by finally granting him his favourite role.

However, it would also make a nice change if the media gave him a break. I mean, Pele talking about Rooney needing anger management? What exactly does he have to do with it? I don’t think either Fergie or Rooney asked for his advice.

I understand all those English journalists who sharpen their pens on Rooney, exploiting his underachievement for England. But he’ll never reach the levels expected of him if he’s constantly criticised. And when people like Richard Williams of the Guardian write that he’s no better than Emmanuel Adebayor than you wonder what exactly should he do to be recognised?

His contribution is underrated but I hope Fergie will grant him the freedom he deserves in order to silence the naysayers. And if I’m forced to accept someone else’s opinion then it would be Marcello Lippi’s: the World Cup winning manager reckons Rooney is the modern game’s model forward.