By Manchester correspondent Alex Stevens
Wayne Rooney must adapt his game if he is to thrive in his 30s, according to Paul Scholes.
Rooney’s former Manchester United and England team-mate insists that the forward deserves to remain first-choice for club and country but needs to “pick his moments” in the later stages of his career.
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Rooney, who turns 30 on Saturday, has struggled for form this season scoring only two Premier League goals and failing to net in each of United’s three Champions League group games.
“Players always have to change and Rooney’s come to 30 now and its a time when he won’t be here, there and everywhere like he would like to be,” Scholes observed.
“When we had (Cristiano) Ronaldo in the team he was sacrificed to the left or to the right and that is what Wayne is, he is a complete team player. He will do whatever he can for the team and his goalscoring record is amazing.
“But he can’t go on forever, eventually you do slow down and you have to pick your moments. But there is no doubt he is still a big threat in this team and he is a player that has to play.”
Anthony Martial has taken some of the goalscoring burden off Rooney in what has been an excellent start to the 19-year-old’s United career and scored the team’s only goal in their 1-1 Champions League draw at CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.
But Scholes still regards Rooney as the main man at Old Traffford. “Anthony Martial is still a young player, he’s 19 years old, he didn’t come with the biggest reputation for being a really big goal-scorer. I think the pressure is still on Wayne.
“When we [United] were at our best we had four strikers who could come in and score 25-30 goals. This team now doesn’t have that. There is a lot of pressure on him [Rooney].”
Asked whether Rooney could permanently drop into a deeper role in midfield, Scholes told BT Sport: “I think he can play in midfield, he has done it in the past for three or four games but then maybe gets a little bit bored of it.
“I still see him as a centre forward. I think he is still just about quick enough to play that role and he can score goals.”