PICTURE: Worrying graphic underlines Roo/RvP partnership problem?

Wayne Rooney

Manchester United's strike partnership seemingly loathe playing with each other.

Of the 649 passes attempted by Manchester United players during their disappointing 2-2 draw with Fulham yesterday, at Old Trafford, only two headed in the direction of Robin van Persie via the boot of Wayne Rooney.

That is not to say Rooney was languid in the pass as the Englishman completed 43 of his 50 attempts against the Cottagers, but is perhaps more a reflection on a strike-force that should, on-paper, rival that of Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero at Manchester City and Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool.

On the field, though, it is a different story and the link-up play at the weekend is not merely a one-off, as the reverse could also be said just one week ago, when Stoke City slayed United and van Persie supplied Rooney with the ball just thrice - all three coming from dead-ball situations, from kick-off.

If this was a mere one-off situation against Fulham, the (lack of a) RooVP partnership could be attributed by the tactics utilised by David Moyes. Play was not encouraged through the middle, where Rooney would have perhaps seen more of the ball at his feet in order to encourage his higher-placed partner up the pitch, but instead filtered through to the wide areas - with 81 crosses attempted, a Premier League record.

That there is history of this should be cause for concern for Moyes and will be a true test of his coaching mettle. In Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie he has one of the most exciting tridents of attack-minded footballers, but is alienating their best traits by pushing the ball to the flanks.

image: © nasmac

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