– Tim Long contributed with this article
“F***ing what?” Wayne Rooney said to the Sky Sports cameras after his hat-trick goal in Manchester United’s 4-2 win against West Ham on Saturday.
While we would all agree there is no place for such expletives on national Saturday afternoon television, “What?” is in fact a very good question for Rooney to put to the nation’s public.
After a prolific season last year, the United star has been under intense scrutiny for both his performances and his behaviour this campaign.
His aggressive verbal assault on the lens of that camera at Upton Park will do little to calm talk of his inability to play role-model. Yet, it is becoming much more difficult to question the striker’s outings as a footballer.
The old adage that a truly world class player can play badly for 89 minutes but change the game in one magical minute certainly applies to the scouser this term. On Saturday it was perhaps more a case of 64 bad minutes, as Rooney, along with the rest of his United team mates, were sensational in the final half an hour.
Rooney’s hat-trick marked his best goal scoring performance since he scored four against Hull last January. It is now eight goals for Rooney in his last eight league games; however the truth is that Wayne has been making significant contributions for much of the season.
In ice hockey a player’s contribution is most commonly judged not on goals or assists, but on “points” – a combination of both. After all, an assist is often just as important, if not more so, than a finish — both ultimately lead to a goal.
This season Rooney has 21 points from 22 games — 10 goals and 11 assists. This is a significant contribution towards 0.95 goals per game. Last season the United striker had 29 points — 26 goals and three assists — from 32 games in the league. This is actually a lower contribution of 0.91 points per game, amazingly making Rooney more effective this season at helping United hit the back of the net than in his player of the year-winning season.
The league’s top scorer this season, Rooney’s United team mate Dimitar Berbatov, has 23 points in 27 games, while United’s other star man, Luis Nani, has 25 points also from 27 games. Incredibly, on a points per game basis, this makes Rooney Manchester United’s best player this campaign.
An even more unbelievable statistic is that Rooney’s points per game figure is slightly ahead of Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie, and Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez, making him the most effective player in the whole of the Premier League this season when it comes to playing a part in scoring goals.
What? Nothing Mr Rooney.Tweet