United's biggest backwards passer revealed: Not Cleverley or Carrick

Wayne Rooney 2014

The most frequent backwards passer at Manchester United is none other than Wayne Rooney.

Manchester United's uninspiring midfielders get much of the blame for the side's underperformance this season, although their wayward defence is quickly catching them up.

Much of the blame has been landed at the door of Tom Cleverley, who has not looked anywhere near the player he was once touted to be.

Michael Carrick was particularly poor against Olympiakos, and a common complaint particularly in Cleverley's case is that he is too safe with the ball.

It would not surprise to learn that either were the most frequent in terms of making backward passes at United, yet actually it's not the case. Cleverley finds himself fourth in the category, and Carrick sixth.

Top of the pile? None other than Wayne Rooney. Here are the 'top' 10:

PlayerPosBackward PassBackward Pass / appsFwd PassFwd Pass / appsApps
Wayne Rooney FW 215 9.77 209 9.50 22
Luis Antonio Valencia MF 207 9.00 225 9.78 23
Patrice Evra DF 154 5.92 408 15.69 26
Tom Cleverley MF 129 6.79 272 14.32 19
Danny Welbeck FW 117 6.88 80 4.71 17
Michael Carrick MF 115 6.05 472 24.84 19
Adnan Januzaj MF 100 5.00 127 6.35 20
Robin van Persie FW 92 5.75 70 4.38 16
Ashley Young MF 91 6.07 110 7.33 15
Phil Jones DF 89 5.56 200 12.50 16

Rooney's need to pass the ball backwards is due to his forward role and need to keep possession. With only Robin van Persie usually ahead of him, if he finds the route to the Dutchman blocked, he has to turn back to find a teammate.

Perhaps that's the problem, that United's full-backs and wingers are not getting forward enough in support, to provide Rooney with more options.

Cleverley and Carrick make more than their fair share of forward passes - more per game than any other player, but this in itself is concerning that given United's form - their passes are not proving good enough to create goals and help the team out.

image: © wonker

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