Much of Wayne Rooney's value to Manchester United lies in his versatility. The Englishman has recently stated that he enjoys a withdrawn and playmaking role, whether that be as a No.10 in behind a lead striker in a 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 shape or as a No.10 behind two strikers in a midfield diamond system. However, he's capably played the role as a lead striker striker in the past -- in a 'false 9' sort of role -- while he's also possesses the ability to admirably put in a hard-working shift (if he's in the mood) as a central-midfielder or as a wide forward/winger.
Ahead of Sunday's derby, one could reasonably deduce that Sir Alex Ferguson has been prepping Rooney for a role as a right-sided attacker. The United manager, earlier this week, said that he decided to use the versatile player in a meaningless European midweek tie against CFR Cluj because a run of successive games is needed to keep fitness levels high. However, did Fergie deploy him on the right for a second successive game in order to get the Englishman more comfortable in this role with Manchester City in mind? It's very possible. This was perhaps done with a 4-2-1-3 shape in mind, the one used last weekend at Reading. More typically this season, United have been deployed in either a 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 or in a midfield diamond shape. The recent events may occurred in preparation for Sunday's clash at the Etihad.
When recent injuries to Anderson and Tom Cleverley are considered (Full Team News Report), might it be best to deploy Rooney in the engine room? The likes of Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, and Darren Fletcher are all fine footballers, but at the current moment, none of them provide the mobility and vitality of Ando and Cleverley. Rooney, though, does. If Fergie does, indeed, plan on using a 4-2-1-3 versus City, might he consider using Rooney ahead of two deeper-lying central-midfielders? This would would put him in the vicinity of Yaya Toure's likely zone. The Ivorian has overrun the United midfield in recent seasons and Fergie basically put Park Ji-sung in this proposed role for the title at the Etihad last season.
In midfield and in the attack, the only players who seem certain for selection are Rooney, Robin van Persie, and Michael Carrick. That leaves some flexibility on how to use the versatile Wazza. Would it best to use the Englishman's energy and determination alongside Carrick in the center of the park? Or might Rooney be better used in support of RvP up top -- whether that be as a No.10 or as an industrious wide attacker? Vote for your preference in the poll below. Also, feel free to further express your opinion in the comments section.