With Juan Mata’s arrival imminent, Jon Wilmore speculates on Wayne Rooney’s future at Old Trafford…
It’s happening – it’s actually happening. But when the initial ecstasy over Juan Mata’s arrival at Manchester United dies down, Moyes and the boys are going to face another question entirely – where on earth do they actually play him?
The question has been raised throughout the media, with nobody quite certain enough to reach a general consensus. United have recent experience of purchasing a star player from a rival whose position was ostensibly not their weakest – a purchase that basically won them the league.
After reluctantly relinquishing the role of star centre forward to Robin van Persie last year, Wayne Rooney has seemed a man renewed in the Dutchman’s absence, thriving up top and again as a number 10 in behind Danny Welbeck. But now, it must happen again. Continue reading
James Gheerbrant argues against England’s push to naturalise Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj…
The enduring fascination and frustration of international football, the thing about it that compels and confounds in equal measure, is that there are no quick fixes. For the international manager, there are no easy answers to the sort of problems that club coaches are used to eliminating with a fusillade of their semi-automatic chequebook. If your side doesn’t have a decent striker (a problem which has plaqued a succession of otherwise outstanding Portugal teams, for example), then you cannot simply dip into the transfer market to acquire one. If the issues run deeper, if they reflect a nation’s football culture, they must be solved through grass-roots graft, not by parachuting in a panacea. The beauty of the international game is that there is no hiding from the ugly truth.
That, at least, was how it used to be. But on Saturday Roy Hodgson, the manager entrusted by the FA to nurse the ailing English patient towards Brazil, had a glimpse of just such a miracle cure. At Sunderland on Saturday, Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj, 18 years old and precociously gifted, inspired a comeback victory on his full debut with two superbly taken goals – and announced himself as perhaps English’s football unlikeliest Messiah. For it emerged that Januzaj, though born and raised in Belgium to Albanian parents, could yet qualify to pull on the Three Lions on residency grounds. No matter that Januzaj has lived here only two years, no matter that England is in no real sense his homeland, he is the prodigious playmaker we have hungered for through the wilderness years. In this modern-day football parable, he is not so much the prodigal son as the fatted calf. Continue reading