Vardy is Man United's missing link
Sorry Rooney, this Leicester star striker has shown van Gaal what United are missing
LEICESTER CITY 1
(Jamie Vardy 24)
MAN UNITED 1
(Bastian Schweinsteiger 45)
The king is dead, long live the king.
Fourteen months separate Jamie Vardy and Wayne Rooney in age.
Yesterday morning (Singapore time) at the King Power Stadium, the great pretender was finally unmasked.
Vardy is the English Premier League's latest history boy while Rooney continues to prove to be yesterday's man.
One's goal glut is never-ending while the other cannot find the target for love nor money.
Theirs has been football's very own "Trading Places"; a classic tale of the haves and the have-nots swopping.
One made his professional debut in the eighth tier of English football's pyramid at a time when the other was collecting silverware and recording goal tallies well into double figures, at will.
As recently as 2012, when Rooney closed in on a fifth Premier League winners' medal, Vardy was languishing in non-league football.
Vardy's hard work and self-belief has now paid handsome dividends and his rise has been meteoric after disadvantageous beginnings and adversity.
His £1 million ($2.12m) move to Leicester City was derided as frivolous.
After a history-breaking 11th consecutive goal in the Premier League, those dissenters are retreating into the dark fast.
Rooney's personal wealth, international acclaim and medal haul will surely elude Vardy, but right now the Leicester striker possesses something his opposite number is lacking, and maybe even lost forever.
The 30-year-old Manchester United captain may be tempted to trade a smidgen of those worldly possessions for the confidence that Vardy exuded when he fired the ball past David de Gea.
He never looked likely to miss.
These days, you cannot say the same for Rooney in such situations.
United have also come under fire over the last few weeks for their boring brand of football, and it is an ongoing issue under Louis van Gaal's increasingly rudderless reign at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman remains one of Rooney's biggest supporters.
Had injury not prompted his withdrawal midway through the second half, van Gaal would have persevered with Rooney in the vain belief that his captain would eventually play himself back into the kind of form that once saw him ranked among the most feared strikers in Europe.
But van Gaal is not Alex Ferguson and the current United bears little, if any, resemblance to the quality and capabilities his illustrious predecessor once instilled.
Leicester's build-up to Vardy's historic strike contained all the hallmarks of the counter-attacks which were synonymous with Ferguson's perennial trophy gatherers.
Since that last visit to the King Power Stadium 14 months ago, when United were defeated 5-3 in an extraordinary game of back and forth, van Gaal has killed off what belief remained of a promising future following the chaotic days of David Moyes.
What little progress has been as ugly as it is stagnant; a fact typified by Bastian Schweinsteiger's grappling with Shinji Okazaki in the prelude to the German's half-time equaliser.
Others in Rooney's supporting cast have done little to inspire confidence, either.
As Memphis Depay spurned a golden opportunity to snatch victory for the visitors, van Gaal simply began making notes in his in-game dossier.
The Dutch attacker had done all the hard work, bursting into the penalty area but, like Rooney, was sorely lacking in finesse.
Unless van Gaal was scrawling Cristiano Ronaldo's name, it is a pattern that will repeat for far longer than perhaps Leicester can sustain their spell in the company of English football's elite.
Just maybe, van Gaal could have been even writing the name Vardy down.
Pace, indefatigable desire, fearlessness, directness, the 28-year-old striker is everything United are missing in their stable of attackers.
"I signed his shirt and i dated it, because my signature is important. i wrote ‘great achievement, great record, 11 goals in a row’ — his also teammates signed it."
— Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri on Jamie Vardy
"Well done Vardy. You’re no. 1 now and you deserve it."
— Former EPL goalscoring record holder Ruud van Nistelrooy
"Vardy! he scores when he wants."
— Leicester City legend Gary Lineker
By the numbers
Jamie Vardy has scored in 11 consecutive Premier League games, a new record.
Vardy (14) has now scored the most goals by a Leicester player in a single Premier League campaign.