Rooney determined to become new Scholes and Giggs
Wayne Rooney is determined to reinvent himself as an attacking midfielder in a similar way to Paul Scholes and guide Manchester United's young forwards like Ryan Giggs used to.
Having played in a midfield three against Crystal Palace last week, Rooney remained behind the forwards in the FA Cup semi-final against Everton and produced arguably his best United performance in five years.
Scholes was 31 when an eye problem ruled him out for five months in 2005-06, contributing to his switch from marauding attacking midfielder to deep-lying playmaker upon his return.
Rooney is now eager to make the same transition and pass the attacking baton onto United's new forwards.
“I've known for a few years (how to play in midfield), I have played there a few times throughout my career and I can play that position,” Rooney said.
“I have played and watched Paul Scholes play that role for years and I always knew that one day that is where I would play, so I have tried to learn and watch what he did. It is still early days but hopefully if I keep playing there I can develop and get better.
“I think I can free other players up. Obviously it is down to the manager, it is his decision and for the team, more importantly, it is the right thing to do at this moment in time.
“We have got a lot of pace in the team now and I think I can read the game quite well and whether to go forward or stay deeper and leave the space for the other lads.”
Ryan Giggs also reinvented himself as a playmaking midfielder in his 30s and Rooney outlined his desire to assume the Welshman's on-pitch lieutenant role.
“Of course I try and help them,” Rooney said of youngsters Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
“We’re all trying to win together. When I joined the club at 18, Giggsy was about 30 and I saw the help and advice he gave me at that age so if I can help those young players in any way now I’m happy to do that.
“I’ve been doing that but not only that, they can help me as well. You’re always learning and especially in the last few games learning about a new position and playing deeper than I’ve played. I’ve been enjoying it.”
Martial, Rashford and Jesse Lingard wreaked havoc against Everton in a game United should have won more comfortably, and Rooney is excited about the talent up front.
“We created some great chances and obviously we’ve got exciting players in the three attacking positions,” he added.
“It frees me up a bit and allows me to get on the ball and try to have a big influence on the game.
“Obviously it’s early days, especially for Rashford, he’s a young lad and hasn’t played many games but the impact he has had has been huge for us in the last couple of months.
“Anthony has settled in quickly. Obviously with the start he had he wasn’t going to go on like that for the whole season but he’s settled down, is coming up with some big goals for us and you can see the enjoyment in his game and a great goal today has put us in the final.
“Playing at Man United, whether you’re 18 or 30, you have to take some sort of responsibility. Obviously you can’t take all the burden, it’s difficult to do that as a young lad, but you’re got a responsibility to your team, to your team-mates and the young lads are handling that really well.”