Skip to content

Premier League Playback: Rooney’s revolution at Manchester United, Everton slides, top teams accelerate

Feb 24, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

.

ROONEY PERFECT TALISMAN TO LEAD REVIVAL

What does $500,000 a week get you? These days, you get a focal point for a revolution.

On Friday evening Manchester United superstar Wayne Rooney signed a new four-year extension to his contract which will see him lead United into a brave new world and hopefully a much brighter future. Committing himself to the Old Trafford club until the age of 33, Rooney will likely see out his playing days with the club he’s now been with for over a decade.

Following his terrific display in United’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, and a stunning goal which you can watch above, Rooney had the following to say.

“I’ve had it agreed for about a month now, so I was just hoping it would get done as soon as possible. Now I can focus on football and try to help us succeed and win games. I’m delighted to sign a new long-term contract, I’m here to stay and I want to help make this club successful.”

Rooney, like any player, wants to feel wanted. And ever since David Moyes arrived as manager last summer, he’s waxed lyrical about Rooney’s form, professional attitude and leadership skills. Those words, perhaps more than the astronomical sums of money, could be why the 28-year-old striker turned down the advances of Europe’s elite for the chance to spearhead United’s charge back to the top. He has been at the club for 10 years, is in line to break many records, has won every trophy possible and now seems mature enough to take on the mantle of being a talisman on and off the pitch. Rooney will become an ambassador for the club, as the deal which made him the best paid player in United’s history is about much more than money.

source:

Click to enlarge: Position of Wayne Rooney‘s touches vs. Palace. Source – Opta.

He is the one player, throughout all of United’s struggles this season, who has sparkled time and time again. Rooney has scored 10 PL goals in 22 games, but most importantly leads the Premier League in assists with nine. That’s because his role has been altered slightly and will continue to do so after the $56 million arrival of Juan Mata to link up with Rooney. The England international has laid on 44 goalscoring chances this season at an average of one every 42 minutes and his ability as a creator may see him drop deeper as his career plays out.

Full PL Playback archive

Goals, although a huge part of his game, aren’t the be all and end all of Rooney’s output for the Reds. He is the heartbeat of the offense, the robust spine of the attack and is one of the most gifted players the PL has ever seen. His driving runs, clever passes and ability to find pockets of space always see Rooney as the focal point of United’s attack. His temperament is feisty on and off the pitch and although in the past it has resulted in red cards and tantrums, the fire in his belly is exactly what United need to fuel them forward. Rooney’s teammates will feed off his insatiable desire to win titles.

Look at the image on the left and you can see Rooney’s touches from the game vs. Palace, he’s all over the place and that’s Rooney at his best. But most telling is that he only had three touches in the penalty box, and one of those was his superb controlled volley which nestled into the top corner to seal United’s win and capped off the news of his new contract in style.

After the Palace game Rooney spoke about how United’s front four “have great flexibility” and pointed out how the relationship is building between him and Mata as Rooney “was coming deeper and Juan was coming in from the wing.” Rooney noted it will take time for United’s front four of Robin van Persie, Adnan Januzaj, himself and Mata to click perfectly (and don’t forget Danny Welbeck and Chicharito on the bench) but when it does, expect Rooney to be at the hub of everything

For the foreseeable future at United: welcome to Wayne’s World.

Premier League Schedule – Week 27

Result Recap & Highlights
Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland Recap and watch here
Cardiff City 0-4 Hull City Recap and watch here
Chelsea 1-0 Everton Recap and watch here
Crystal Palace 0-2 Man United Recap and watch here
Liverpool 4-3 Swansea Recap and watch here
Man City 1-0 Stoke City Recap and watch here
Newcastle 1-0 Aston Villa Recap and watch here
Norwich 1-0 Tottenham Recap and watch here
West Brom 1-1 Fulham Recap and watch here
West Ham 3-1 Southampton Recap and watch here

TOP FOUR WIN, START TO PULL AWAY

The elite got it done over the weekend, as the top four seem to be pulling away from the pack as they continue to turn the screw when it really matters. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool are now all scrapping for the title, with a six-point gap emerging between them and Tottenham in fifth.

Arsenal eased past hapless Sunderland 4-1, while Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City all won by one goal. The importance of those three grinding out wins was not lost on their managers, as they all were relieved after the final whistle. None more so than Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who looked relaxed and composed in his post-match press conference, just moments after most of Stamford Bridge had lost the plot thanks to the Blues’ stoppage-time winner. Their 74-match unbeaten home run under Mourinho says it all. Chelsea defended superbly once again as their solid defense will win them this title. Plus clutch late winners portray true championship form.

“Today if we only have one point, if the teams behind us win, we lose that position,” Mourinho said nonchalantly. “The difference is very small, you win the game you keep the position. You lose the game you lose your position. This is the reality. We just want to try to keep our position.”

Latest Premier League Standings

The reality is, these four teams are pulling away from the rest at the top and that the Premier League champions in 2013-14 will be either Arsenal, Chelsea, City or Liverpool. I’m not going out on a limb by stating that but as Jose said, that’s the reality. Chelsea lead the way with 11 games to go. Can the others catch up?

EVERTON HAVE REACHED THEIR LEVEL

.

Another dose of reality, albeit it a harsh one, is that Everton have been found out and a top four place is slipping away.

In their 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, the Toffees had a lot of possession but didn’t do enough with it to suggest they are favorites for a top four spot. Roberto Martinez cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines, as standing in front of the press box at Stamford Bridge he became increasingly irritated as the game wore on.

Chelsea’s last gasp winner, which came from a disputed free kick after Ramires took a dramatic tumble, irked Martinez and he shared his disgust about Chelsea’s tactics as his side now sit 11 points off the Champions League positions.

“Chelsea have an incredible know-how of how to win dead-ball situations, using every trick in the book to try to get advantageous decisions. Ramires was looking for contact when he won the free kick and it was not a free kick at all. Just look at the record Chelsea have at home, it must be more than playing well at home every match.”

Sour groups Roberto? Not quite. But I’ve been present for both his post-match press conferences following the 4-0 derby defeat away at Liverpool and then the 1-0 loss at Chelsea and the Spaniard has stayed dignified yet defiant with the belief he has in his side. In their last two away games Everton have faced the same problem which troubled them at the start of the season: a lack of goals. The Toffees have only scored 37 times this season, the seventh highest total in the PL and away from home the issue has been magnified as Everton’s last three away defeats against Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea haven’t yielded a goal. They are now without a win in five matches away from Goodison Park and just four away wins all season isn’t good enough for a team with top four aspirations.

When asked Martinez agreed that Everton’s away form is a problem after the devastating late loss to Chelsea, but he failed to get bogged down by it all.

“Our away form in terms of results, I agree with you [it is a worry]. We go to Stamford Bridge and we get nothing, we go to White Hart Lane and we get nothing. It is probably fair to say we were the better side on both occasions. For us more important than getting points away from home, we must make sure the scoreline reflects the performance.”

As Chelsea are showing, grinding out results in the name of the game in the PL this season. Everton have plenty of style, there’s no disputing that, but their lack of substance will probably cost them a UEFA Champions League spot this season.

STAND BY YOUR MAN…

Of course Martinez’s job will be safe, even if Everton finish outside the top four as the Toffees have, overall, moved forward this season. But elsewhere in the PL, seven managers have lost their jobs and certain clubs are in free fall. The bottom five in the PL standings, Fulham, Cardiff, Sunderland, West Brom and Crystal Palace, have all changed managers and they’ve had varying degrees of success after failing to stand by their man. Country singer Tammy Wynette famously urged everyone to do just that, so maybe these PL should’ve taken a leaf out of her book?

In Crystal Palace and Sunderland’s case, they chose to go with managers who knew the English game well and had vast experience of the Premier League. You can see that, as Palace and the Black Cats have had a huge upturn in results since Tony Pulis and Gus Poyet arrived. As for Fulham, Cardiff and West Brom, who have brought in managers with little to no experience managing in the PL, they’ve seen their new men struggle to adapt. Fulham’s newest arrival, Felix Magath has had one game and garnered one point, more on him shortly. As for Cardiff City boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and West Brom boss Pepe Mel, they have just one PL win between them in 13 games so far. Mel has failed to win, but the Baggies have drawn four of his six games in charge 1-1 and lost to Liverpool and Aston Villa. While Cardiff are spiraling towards the trap door as Solksjaer’s men have lost five of his seven PL games in charge, with a solitary win coming against Norwich.

Were the owners of Cardiff and West Brom’s right to gamble on a new boss rather than stick with their old managers? As Tammy said “keep giving him all the love you can… Stand by your man!” Will that be enough for Cardiff and West Brom to avoid the drop?

HOPE FOR FULHAM UNDER MAGATH?

Fulham haven’t shown much love to their managers this season, and they’ve had three of them, and they’re bottom of the table because of it (Tammy was right). Back in September at Craven Cottage, Fulham led 1-0 against West Brom until stoppage time, then Gareth McAuley rose highest to head home and grab the Baggies a point in the 92nd minute. On Saturday, the same pattern played out as massive defensive errors continue to cost them dear. The Cottagers played well and went ahead early, through Ashkan Dejagah’s strike but then failed to build on their lead and ultimately paid the price for a cautious display. Another late equalizer saw Fulham slip further behind at the bottom of the standings, but this is what happens when you’ve just appointed a German disciplinarian as your new manager. Until his charges get their fitness levels up and get used to his strict training regimes, the Cottagers will likely fade late in games as Felix Magath runs them into the ground at practice.

So how did Magath do on debut? Okay. Fulham looked solid and should’ve probably grabbed a massive three points. But they didn’t after a goalkeeping error let them down and now Magath will make them work even harder to avoid the drop. That’s the only way he knows how and in the past he’s been accused of taking away water breaks from players during training. When news of West Brom’s late equalizer filtered through to myself and other journalist in a press room over the weekend, I laughed as a colleague quipped, “Well, looks like there will be no water bottles for Fulham’s players this week.”

The Cottagers are four points off the drop and have played one more game than their rivals hovering above the bottom three. Time is running out, Magath needs a miracle.

Let’s finish with a look at the top five goals from the Premier League this weekend. Watch some absolute beauts, below.

Premier League Playback takes an alternative look at all the weekend’s action from the PL, it comes out every week.

Latest Posts
  1. Michael Bradley disagrees with president’s shot at Toronto roster

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

    Bradley AP

    President of Toronto’s ownership group, Tim Leiweke had harsh words for the Toronto FC locker room. Michael Bradley disagrees.

  2. Report: FA to overhaul work permit rules to cut down on non-EU players

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

    Dyke Getty Images

    Insanely strict new rules proposed by FA chairman Greg Dyke would eliminate non-EU players from the lower leagues completely and slash the amount in the Premier League by around 50%.

  3. Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez reveals he has cancer

    Sep 16, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT

    Gutierrez AP

    We now know why Jonas Gutierrez has barely featured for Newcastle in the last year or so.

  4. Jack Wilshere injured yet again to compound Arsenal’s woes

    Sep 16, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT

    Wilshere AP

    The man who can’t stay on the pitch has tweaked a very problematic part of his body.

  5. VIDEO: Real Madrid make history, notch 1000th goal in European competition

    Sep 16, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT

    Karim Benzema AP

    Benzema bags Real’s fifth goal on Tuesday, which turned out to be their 1000th goal in continental competitions. Wowza.

  6. Steven Gerrard saves Liverpool’s blushes; but should fans be worried?

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Liverpool FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Gerrard scores last-gasp winner, but Liverpool under-performed again in narrow win.

  7. Arteta: Arsenal “didn’t perform well enough” at Borussia Dortmund

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT

    mikel_arteta_ciro_immobile

    Arsenal’s captain notes the danger of falling behind at BVB, while Klopp calls his teams performance “nearly perfection.”

  8. UEFA Champions League roundup: Liverpool win late; Real Madrid, Dortmund victorious

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Contrasting fortunes for PL sides, as eight games kick off the new UCL season. Find out what happened, right here.

  9. Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal: Gunners outclassed by BVB

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    ciro_immobile AP

    A dominant performance from the 2012-13 finalists made easy work of the visiting Gunners.

  10. Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets: Gerrard grabs last-gasp winner after scare

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT

    Liverpool FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Dramatic finale at Anfield as Liverpool leave it late to beat Bulgarian minnows.

  11. Premier League player of month on pace for 67 goals (video)

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Chelsea Training & Press Conference Getty Images

    Okay, so it’s 66.5 goals but you know the rules of rounding and Diego Costa is your proverbial example of being on fire.

  12. LIVE – Champions League half time update: Real Madrid flying, Arsenal losing

    Sep 16, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Marek Suchy AP

    Real fly out of the traps, while Arsenal are caught on their heels. Updates on all eight games, right here.

  13. When Frank Lampard met Men In Blazers

    Sep 16, 2014, 3:08 PM EDT

    Source: New York City FC Source: New York City FC

    Remember that time Jose Mourinho told Frank Lampard he was the best player in the world … in the shower? No? Oh, right. That’s because you have to watch this.

  14. Orlando City announces retention of 7 players for first MLS season

    Sep 16, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    OrlandoCitySC.com OrlandoCitySC.com

    Kaka was obvious, but who else is making the move from USL PRO to Major League Soccer next season?

  15. Open Cup final preview: Is a championship coming to Philly tonight?

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Brad Evans, Maurice Edu AP

    The fairly-even history between Philadelphia and Seattle meets at a momentous crossroads tonight at PPL Park in Chester.

  16. AP Global 10 poll hails Atletico as Champions League group stage opens

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

    Diego Simeone AP

    Manchester United, Aston Villa leap up the list after impressive wins on the weekend.

  17. From the Bundesliga to the WWE? How fan furor made GK a bodybuilder

    Sep 16, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

    wiese1

    The jacked-up keeper was released by Hoffenheim last season as his body became too muscular to stand between the sticks (at least according to the club).

  18. Van Basten steps down from AZ Alkmaar post after heart issues

    Sep 16, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

    Dutch Eredivisie - "Marco van Basten change of position" Getty Images

    In a very odd twist, he’s going to stay on as assistant manager to Alex Pastoor, a former assistant.

  19. Arsenal’s defending depth fears could be on display against Dortmund

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Sky Sports Sky Sports

    Know the name Hector Bellerin? Odds are you will after today’s match-up between Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal.

  20. Rio: Twenty mins after David Moyes was fired, lads wanted banned fish and chips back

    Sep 16, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    The Telegraph The Telegraph

    With all the post-match fish-and-chips testing done around the Premier League, they couldn’t just, you know, eat fish and chips and get away with it.

Featured video

Week 4: Saturday recap