Is Wayne Rooney really only ‘vital’ in Robin van Persie’s absence?

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Tough love continues to be Manchester United’s approach to the Wayne Rooney situation.

Just one day after United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, stated that “[no] contract renewals are being discussed” and the club is happy to let run down the two years remaining on his current deal, manager David Moyes has further stoked the fire, claiming that Rooney is only vital in Robin van Persie’s absence.

“Wayne can play up on his own, he can play dropped in,” Moyes said in Bangkok before United flew to Sydney for the next leg of their tour. “Overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we’ll need him.”

Hearing that soundbite will be a tough pill for Rooney to swallow.

First and foremost, Moyes’ words confirm the obvious, that he believes van Perise is more valuable to United than Rooney. While few fans, whether United supporters or neutrals, will disagree with the notion that the Dutchman is in better form than Rooney, the comment will still give Rooney pause.

Yes, Rooney has had a fantastic career at United, one filled with an invariable amount of breathtaking and memorable moments. These moments, however, can not be confused with the notion – what have you done for me lately?

Moyes’ comment also indicates his opinion that the only place on the pitch where Rooney can be effective is as a forward. It’s a concept that Rooney may disagree with and so too might Sir Alex Ferguson.

During last season’s title-run Ferguson utilized Rooney in a variety of midfield options, which included playing the 27 year old as a holding midfielder in the 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on April 22nd. Van Persie’s hat-trick made him the undisputed star of that match but to be fair, Rooney proved quite effective alongside Michael Carrick.

Reading into Moyes’ words a bit deeper and it’s clear the Scot is not impressed with Rooney as a leader.

The general consensus is that Rooney has never been much of a verbal leader. But there are verbal leaders and there are those who lead by example. And while Rooney may not be the most articulate or philosophical, it would be hard to hold a straight face and claim that his energy and physical approach to the game is not highly motivational.

So was Moyes wrong to make the comment?

Of course not. He is a manager and a motivator who is clearly not happy with how Rooney has handled the speculation concerning his future at United.

More: It’s time Wayne Rooney cleared the air

Moyes’s words are pure motivation. Tough love at its very best – an strong armed urging that Rooney step up (not only on the pitch but perhaps to a microphone as well) and prove his worth.

That being said, the idea that Rooney is not ‘vital’ to United in van Persie’s absence is completely preposterous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off-kilter Kane saves sloppy Spurs at Palace

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  • Tottenham goes fourth
  • Spurs with 76 percent possession
  • Kane scores late

Harry Kane made amends for an atypical day of sloppy finishing with an 89th minute winner as Tottenham Hotspur persisted to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

The win gives Spurs 55 points, good for fourth in the Premier League before Chelsea faces Manchester United.

Palace remains 17th, behind Saints but ahead of Swans on goal differential. The Eagles are sorely missing Wilfried Zaha.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ben Davies was fouled in a bid to meet a back post free kick in the eighth minute, but no penalty was given and Palace cleared the corner as Spurs provided the first true scoring chance of the match.

Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey was at his left post for a fine save on Harry Kane in the 10th, as Patrick Van Aanholt lost the English superstar.

At the other end, Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was headed into the arms of Hugo Lloris by James Tomkins. Lloris would deprive Christian Benteke of a finishing bid in the 16th minute, too.

A penalty was coming for Kane before the referee noticed the linesman’s raised flag and saved Timothy Fosu-Mensah from conceded the opportunity.

Palace made it to the locker room at 0-0, with Townsend hitting a low ball to Lloris before the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The second half began, and Spurs worked some chances to score that were lacking the appropriate finish. Both Kane and Christian Eriksen shanked attempts in the first five minutes.

A pair of gorgeous flicks from Serge Aurier and Eriksen met Kane near the back post, but the striker atypically missed what should’ve been an easy opener.

Palace thought Alexander Sorloth might’ve earned a penalty from Davinson Sanchez, but Spurs escaped punishment in the 63rd minute.

Hennessey continued to play his role, stopping from Aurier before extending fully to palm away Davies’ offering in the 73rd.

Dele Alli dove in a bid to win a penalty soon after the Davies denial, but had no success.

Kane found a moment of brilliance in the 83rd minute, but Benteke of all players slid to block the shot and Hennessey collected the ball.

Davies should’ve had an assist moments later, but Aurier tripped on the ball.

Kane dragged an 86th minute shot inches wide of the goal, and it just seemed unlikely to be Spurs day despite dominance on the ball.

Of course, that meant an off-balance Hennessey couldn’t get a hold of Kane’s header off an Eriksen free kick with 90 seconds remaining before stoppage time.

Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Chelsea

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It’s a big one, you know: Manchester United hosts Chelsea in a battle for table positioning on Sunday at Old Trafford (Watch live at 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Scrutinized summer signings Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata start at center forward for their respective sides.

Morata scored the lone goal when Chelsea beat United 1-0 in November.

Jose Mourinho has opted for Scott McTominay over Michael Carrick and Juan Mata in the midfield, while Anthony Martial gets the call over Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.

Chelsea will have Pedro and Olivier Giroud on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, McTominay, Matic, Pogba, Alexis, Lukaku, Martial. Subs: Pereira, Bailly, Shaw, Carrick, Mata, Lingard, Rashford.

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Drinkwater, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Emerson, Fabregas, Pedro, Giroud.

Aubameyang says off-field criticism “goes over my head”

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The Daily Mirror posted a profile on Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang late Saturday, speaking with the Gabonese striker as well as a number of people in his life.

[ MORE: PL Saturday roundup ]

Most of the talk dealt with his obsession with soccer, which started as an admirer of his internationally-capped father, but the quotes getting attention come from Aubameyang and deal with his comfort as a flashy personality.

So for those wondering whether the 27-year-old is going to tame his off-field activities now that he’s moved to London, well, it’s unlikely.

Aubameyang has a bit of David Beckham in him, cognizant of his background and relishing his place in life.

“The clothes, the cars and all that are a bonus. I enjoy living this way. I like who I am and it doesn’t matter if other people can’t ­accept that – it goes over my head.

“As they say ‘you only live once’. It’s important to know where you come from and where your roots are – the rest is a big bonus.”

Any number of players, from Andy Carroll to Cristiano Ronaldo, have appreciated the very same things.

It’s not a big deal.

As long as on-field performances accompany them, any criticism is driven by envy or a need to attract a similar form of attention as the player himself.

Watch Live: Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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Crystal Palace could find itself back in the relegation zone with a heavy home defeat Saturday, and Tottenham Hotspur is certainly capable of providing such misery (Watch live at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, Riedewald, McArthur, Townsend, Sorloth, Benteke. Subs: Henry, Souare, Delaney, Rakip, Lokilo, Kirby, Lee.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (C), Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Lamela, Eriksen, Dele, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Foyth, Trippier, Rose, Sissoko, Lucas, Son.