By Harry Harris
WAYNE Rooney has been left out of the squad for tomorrow’s Champions League game at PSV Eindhoven because of the injury picked up after returning from England duty, and which kept him out of the victory over Liverpool at the weekend.
The Manchester United skipper pick up a hamstring strain in training and Louis Van Gaal is not prepared to take any risks with his main frontline striker. His only recognised centre forward, in fact.
Not that United missed him too much on Saturday tea-time when they ran out comfortable 3-1 winners against a lacklustre Liverpool. Just as Rooney himself burst onto the scene as a kid with a wonder goal, Anthony Martial did likewise – could he be the answer to LVG’s striking problem?
Van Gaal said after the game Rooney would be a doubt for the trip to the Netherlands, and the manager has decided not to risk him.
Rooney’s absence from the squad is being reported this morning on the BBC on Line.
Striker James Wilson and midfielder Andreas Pereira are in the squad, but the United squad are thin on the ground for strikers which is a major surprise considering the clubs resources and ambitions in the transfer window.
Wilson was recently linked with a loan move to a Championship side, but any switch to Derby County has had to be put on hold because of the issues in central attack. Pereira has made just two substitute appearances for the club since joining from PSV in August last year.
Marouane Fellaini played the lone striker role but looked like a fish out of water. To play in that position you need to have the ability to hold up the ball under pressure and bring teammates into play. Fellaini was unable to do that, mainly because his first touch was absolutely shocking.
He was controlling the ball further than I can kick it, and promising United moves broke down far too many times when the ball was played into the ungainly Belgian.
The Champions League game at the Phillips Stadium marks the start of Manchester United’s Group B campaign, and the clubs return to the elite European arena.
But it is clear that their attacking resources are no longer as powerful as they were in the days when they were in the mix to win the Champions League.
This year might prove to be Manchester City’s year, but it doesn’t look like being United’s given their lack of striking options. Rooney cannot take the fight to Europe’s finest alone.