All transfer rumors are gone; all thoughts of leaving disappeared. Wayne Rooney is simply happy to be playing football again; starting, scoring, leading. Manchester United enjoyed his influence as they opened the David Moyes era in the Champions League with a dominant display, that could have gone a bit easier if it wasn’t for some hair-raising misses, mostly coming from Robin van Persie.
Rooney had one of his own after already beating goalkeeper Bernd Leno, but it didn’t really matter on a day with two goals and an assist from him, scoring the opener, the third and finished the match with a nice through ball to Antonio Valenica to cap off a well executed counter attack in the 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
Leverkusen did give United trouble at certain points, especially during the second half. They’re a very physical team that’s extremely strong in the air, embarrassing the duo of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic more than once. David de Gea wasn’t at his best when it came to communicating with his centre backs, which allowed the messes in the box that gave Leverkusen their two goals in the match; one of them a short-lived equalizer and the other a garbage time goal that didn’t do much.
If anyone thought of selling Rooney, he’s probably changed his mind by now or simply shares his feeling with himself, no one else. Rooney was simply fantastic on almost every occasion he’s had to impress this season, giving his best performance so far on David Moyes’ biggest night yet as Manchester United manager. And to think Moyes referred to Rooney as a second option to Robin van Persie shortly after taking the job.
Van Persie did score quite the acrobatic goal, but in the Champions League, the quality of opponents makes you pay for not taking advantage of excellent chances. Van Persie can’t alone shoulder the blame, but he finds himself quite often wondering how he let some chances get away from him, in situations that he usually scores from when playing in the Premier League.
One of the most interesting inclusions in the lineup had to be Shinji Kagawa, making his first appearance this season. No one knows if Moyes wanted to start him or was simply forced to by the injury to Danny Welbeck and the criticism of Ashley Young which forced him to be benched, at least in the start.
How did Kagawa do? He wasn’t impressive, but he did have a couple of passes that show what kind of vision and passing ability he has. However, playing as a left winger, even when he has the freedom to roam and cut to the middle to where he’s a lot more effective, isn’t his cup of tea, and if Moyes’ plan is to use him as some sort of inside forward, he won’t be getting the best out of him.
Rooney left the match to a standing ovation. As if his transfer request was forgotten. As if Alex Ferguson didn’t bench him as part of an attempt to make the club less and less dependent on his abilities. Wayne Rooney proved, and not for the first time this season, that he’s the team’s best player, and someone who’s willing to let grievances of the past go away and not let it influence the quality of play.