Mata and Rooney Are Beauty and the Beast

The Manchester United star forward Wayne Rooney currently sits pretty on top of Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa. He currently and quite controversially occupies the hugely coveted no.10 role at Manchester United. However after analysis of the last few games he has played it is becoming increasingly obvious the £300,000 a week man is all show and no tell.


A Great Player (L) A Legend (R)

To those of you unaware of the term Hollywood passing, I shall define it for you. It is when a player plays an extravagant looking pass when a more simple and more effective pass is readily available. For example, Paul Scholes, England’s finest midfielder of his generation was NOT a Hollywood passer. He was and still is commonly referred to as the ‘Shy Genius‘.

The beauty was in his simplicity. To us as the viewers, it seemed like an ordinary pass but to the manager Sir Alex, it was a Paul Scholes pass, simple and effective. This is not to say he could not play the extravagant ball! To the contrary he could play the most sublime passes that could please the eye and melt the heart, best of all it was a decisive pass. One that shredded the opposition. Have a look at the video below, it is how a midfielder should be playing.

Manchester United’s No.10 Wayne Rooney on the other hand is one of the worst culprits of the ‘Hollywood Pass’. This type of pass slows down our game, which for a team that relies on quick counter attacks kills off a major scoring outlet. Here are a few ‘Pass Maps’ that will show you in more detail what I am talking about:

Rooney vs Liverpool

As the above graphic shows you Rooney picks up the ball in his own half and for 3 occasions simply boots it to the wings. That is not the role of a no.10! A no.10 is meant to drive forward and support the striker. Wayne Rooney on 3 instances in his own half, chooses to play the ‘Hollywood pass’. Largely ineffective as all it does is put pressure on our wingers far too early! (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you read my full analysis of the game) My particular favourite Hollywood pass of his is the 3rd most to the left, where he picks up the ball from one wing and simply boots it down the other! A classic Hollywood Pass!

Moving onto passes in the opposition half we immediately notice he gives away possession twice trying to play a long ball to the wings! As a fan it makes me want to tear my hair out! We have Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj, two fantastic ball players who love short crisp passes that increases the games tempo. Rooney prefers to please the eye and makes no real progress by playing Hollywood passes. There is only one exception however! He finally plays a cross field pass that reaches its man on the edge of the box. That is the sort of pass Scholes produced and that is the sort of pass Rooney will have to play more often if he is persistant with his long passing. What would be more preferable is if he chooses to stop hogging the spotlight and play as simply 1 of the attacking 3 rather than trying to make up for all 3 of them. I admire his work rate but it leaves him out of position and slows our play. It also means RvP is unable to receive any support when he is inside the box. A prime example of this would be here:

Rather Than Let Rafael/Mata take the Free Kick, Rooney decides to take it and leave RvP alone and helpless.

Rather Than Let Rafael/Mata take the Free Kick, Rooney decides to take it and leave RvP alone and helpless.

It might seem I am simply having go at Rooney however it is for the good of the team. He slows down play, disrupts the tempo and loses possession. His Average Pass Accuracy is only 80%, which for a Manchester United no.10 is unacceptable. To provide you some perspective Juan Mata maintains a pass accuracy of 90%. What you will find interesting is Mata’s pass graph. Mata is the modern no.10 and at Chelsea was the best play maker in the BPL and set the standards!

Below are pass graphs of how Mata performed as a No.10 in his first game! Look at the first graph and the lack of long balls compared to Rooney. Although he tends to play some, they are not as many as Rooney. Also look at the second map where we see all his short intricate passes. They keep the game tempo high and possession in our hands.

Mata Long Balls vs Cardiff

Mata Long Balls vs Cardiff

Rooney Long Balls vs Liverpool

Rooney Long Balls vs Liverpool

Rooney Less Long Balls and More Of This Please

Rooney Less Long Balls and More Of This Please – Mata’s Short Passing vs Cardiff –

I am one of those who believe statistics do not tell the whole story and I am hoping this is just a coincidence. The facts remain though, Rooney must adapt HIS play to suit the team as I am sure he is well capable of doing so. He is a hugely talented individual. I think as long as he is not able to adapt he will only remain a hindrance to the team due to his knack for ‘Hollywood Passing’ and slowing the game down as a result.

This knack would disappoint the great Paul Scholes and it disappoints me. I would like to see him in the starting eleven however as things stand from a tactical perspective I’d keep him out and give Kagawa a run in the team. He is a modern no.10 and would play short and decisive passes to RvP which he thrives upon! Plus the idea of Mata and Kagawa starting together excites me!

Let me know what you think! Do you think Rooney should adapt his game or do you think his Hollywood Passes are in someway effective? Let me know down below in the comments! Also this is the final post in a 3 post series which analysed our loss to  Liverpool at Old Trafford. In previous posts I am much more specific to and talk only about the Liverpool game however in this post I generalised a bit whilst still talking about the Liverpool game! You can find the previous 2 posts here:

PART 1 – ‘How Brendan Rodgers Tactically Outclassed David Moyes’

PART 2 – RvP vs Liverpool: The Lone Ranger’

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed please subscribe to my blog or drop me a tweet @rafqaziblogs!


5 responses to “Mata and Rooney Are Beauty and the Beast

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