Not so bright, but Wayne the striker shows bite

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, who was praised by Louis van Gaal after playing against Burnley as a defensive midfielder, was back to playing up front in the FA Cup fifth-round tie with Preston.

PA Sport assesses Rooney's performance in his side's 3-1 fifth-round victory at Deepdale:


Starting on the left side of a three-man forward line, Rooney showed some nice touches and movement - but, as with United's performance overall, the skipper struggled to produce anything potent.

He was just unable to latch on to a few attempted tee-ups, and in the 18th minute, he saw his strike from a Luke Shaw cross come back off a fine block by John Welsh.

When the Red Devils started to turn the tie around, Rooney's key involvement was to avoid touching the ball while standing offside as Ander Herrera equalised. His graft was finally rewarded late on as he won and converted a penalty for his first goal of 2015 - albeit with questions again being asked, this time over whether there had been any contact on him when he went down in the box.


As is typical even when he has been deployed as a forward, Rooney frequently dropped back to either aid the defensive effort or help with build-up play.

On this occasion he was, more than anything else, the man looking to be on the end of moves, though - and after having been frustrated for a long period on that front, he was naturally delighted when his penalty kick went in.


Rooney did not deliver his most devastating performance as a striker, in what was a very disjointed display from United as a whole.

But he showed more energy and commitment than a lot of his teammates and it yielded a goal in the end, regardless of how legitimately the penalty was earned.

- PA Sport.