Eye On EPL

Vardy a breath of fresh air, Rooney's career needs freshening

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.PHOTO: REUTERS

Jamie Vardy and Wayne Rooney are at opposite ends of the spectrum when you talk about the in-form strikers in the English Premier League (EPL) at the moment.

One is hot, the other is not.

Vardy is the league's leading scorer with 10 goals in as many games, helping unfancied Leicester City to fifth place.

Having been around for so long in the business, Rooney probably is burnt out and needs a new challenge, maybe even a new club. Just two EPL goals this campaign hardly fits his billing as captain for both club and country as well as his crown as England's record scorer.

Meanwhile, Manchester United are a place above Leicester, but they are doing so with minimal contribution from their skipper Rooney, who netted twice so far.

It is unusual to find someone from a club outside the top teams leading the scoring chart.

This shows that although the top clubs can buy the top strikers, they could just be adding new names, and not goals. Two high-profile flops that come to mind are Mario Balotelli at Liverpool and Fernando Torres at Chelsea.

Vardy, 28, is enjoying a purple patch, scoring in seven consecutive matches - an incredible feat, for not many players can go on such a scoring run.

In fact, he is only the eighth player in EPL history to achieve the feat, joining the likes of Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

It is an amazing rise for the player, who was once released by Sheffield Wednesday and drifted into non-league football before working his way back to the top.

The challenge for Vardy is to stay consistent and not disappear; only then can he be deemed a respected striker.

He has already caught the eye of Liverpool, and I am sure other clubs are also watching him.

Will Leicester be able keep him? Unlikely.

I do want to see him take the risk and go to a bigger club. I think the time is ripe for him to progress and prove that he deserves a starting XI place with the top players.

In contrast, Rooney, who celebrated his 30th birthday last Saturday, has stalled somewhat in his football career.

He came into prominence with a wonder goal for Everton against Arsenal when he was just 16, but that seems like a long time ago.

Having been around for so long in the business, Rooney probably is burnt out and needs a new challenge, maybe even a new club.

Just two EPL goals this campaign hardly fits his billing as captain for both club and country as well as his crown as England's record scorer.

Rooney is taking a lot of flak now but I don't think he is at fault - he is just following the tactical instructions of his manager.

Under Louis van Gaal, he has been playing as a lone striker. But his best years came when he had a top forward alongside him, like Cristiano Ronaldo or Robin van Persie.

He was never the fastest player but at 30, he is going to be even slower. With less pace, it is even less likely that he can run at defenders from his position.

In fact, his EPL scoring rate is dipping: from a career-high of 27 in the 2011-12 season to 12, 17, and 12 in the subsequent seasons.

For Rooney to be considered a great striker, he has to keep scoring goals. And unfortunately for him, that is why he has been a big disappointment so far this season.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2015, with the headline 'Vardy a breath of fresh air, Rooney's career needs freshening'. Print Edition | Subscribe