Wayne Rooney’s Premier League campaign is officially on hold. The England striker will be out for about two to three weeks following an ankle injury suffered at Bolton last weekend.
Rooney has endured a poor start to the season, netting just once from the penalty spot against West Ham at the end of August. After a feeble showing at the World Cup in South Africa and then suffering constant media attention due to allegations about his personal life, Rooney has looked like a shadow of the man who lit up the Premier League last season. He finished with a career best 34 goals in all competitions and became the talisman of United’s attack, a role that was left open since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. But it looks like media scrutiny and family issues have now begun to take their toll.
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to wonder if Rooney actually welcomes the short layoff, as well as United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. There’s no doubt that any team is better with Wayne Rooney in the lineup, but with personal problems undoubtedly detracting from his concentration, the break could be a time for Rooney to get his head straight and his focus back on track.
Fortunately for Ferguson, United’s other strikers have stepped up to the plate – Dimitar Berbatov has scored six goals already, Michael Owen has netted 3, and new boy Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez got off the mark in the Champions League with the winner against Valencia on Wednesday. Still, though, Rooney’s absence, whether he is in form or not, will be felt by the team, and Ferguson will be hoping that his star striker can at least sort out some of his off-the-field issues by the time he steps back under the spotlight at Old Trafford.
Around the League
Manchester City will have to wait a little longer after all before getting Mario Balotelli back from injury. The Italian striker underwent surgery on September 8th to repair a damaged meniscus in his right knee. He was initially expected to return by October, and despite assistant manager Brian Kidd’s repudiation of reports in Italy that the recovery would take longer, the club revealed this week that Balotelli will likely be unable to play before the end of November.
City’s local rivals Bolton have been buoyed by Stuart Holden’s contract extension, which ties the midfielder down until 2013. The Aberdeen-born American had a difficult start to his career as a Trotter after breaking his leg last March, but this season he has solidified his place in the team and has been in manager Owen Coyle’s starting eleven for every Premier League match thus far.
Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp is set to sweat after William Gallas and Ledley King joined the long list of defenders on the Spurs treatment table. Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul, and Jonathon Woodgate are also all out of action, and Redknapp will be left with only five fit defenders for the foreseeable future in Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Gareth Bale, Alan Hutton, Vedran Corluka, and Sebastian Bassong.