It goes without saying that Manchester United have several world-class players fitting the bill to be classified as reliable penalty-takers, namely Ryan Giggs, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. However, this (apparently) pleasant task has become a bit of a nightmare for the United faithful as of late, as the Reds Devils have failed to find the net 4 out of 7 times so far this season. The more positive side of such an equally dreadful and astonishing stat is that none of these 4 flaws has been costly for Sir Alex Ferguson troops.
In those days, former Manchester United legends Dennis Irwin, Eric Cantona, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo were all terrific from the spot. They had very different personalities but when it came to take a penalty, all four knew how to do it properly. Every one of them missed obviously the odd penalty, but fans knew a penalty in United’s favour meant an almost secure goal.
However, since the Madeira-born star looked for new pastures at the end of the 2008/2009 season, Sir Alex has found it increasingly difficult to find his man to take on penalty duties. Rooney was supposed to emerge as the new regular penalty-taker, but the United talisman has been inconsistent throughout the years to say the least, raising doubts on who should be United’s first choice. Something which has been acknowledged by the fierce Scotsman: “I think Wayne has to accept he must have a better strike-rate at penalties.”
Since wearing the famous red shirt, Rooney has converted 20 out 26 penalties in all competitions, accounting for 77%, albeit two of them found the net following a keeper’s deflection. After failing to beat Arsenal’s keeper at Old Trafford a few weeks ago, the man himself was quoted as saying: “Obviously I was disappointed at the weekend, not only to miss but to miss the target.”
Interestingly enough, none of Rooney’s errors were damaging for United. In contrast, some turned out to be vital, most notably the one scored at Ewood Park which sealed the historic 18th domestic league. This could be a sign that Rooney is able to keep his cool when it matters most and to some extent soften the impact of the penalties wasted. As a matter of interest, the English star maintains his 100% record in European competitions.
Robin van Persie should be a straightforward option, his shocking penalty at Southampton seemed to have impact his confidence a tad, but he admirably bounced back by scoring the winner at Anfield Road. He used to be Arsenal’s regular penalty-taker and many would have predicted the same role for him at Manchester United. However, Rooney still stands as first choice.
Ryan Giggs always seems at ease when assuming this role. His composure and technique are a match in heaven, but the evergreen Welshman only plays every now and then, which makes it hard for him to be United’s regular penalty-taker. , he recently stated: “”I think Giggs is probably the best penalty-taker. I can’t ever remember him missing since he had one saved against Southampton in the FA Cup in 1992. But he doesn’t play every week. Maybe I’ll bring him on like in American Football games!”, as Sir Alex recently reflected.
On the other side of the spectrum, both Michael Carrick and Luis Nani, a pair frequently criticized in some quarters by their frailty, endured a torrid time following their disappointing efforts in the 1-0 loss in Burnley in August 2009 and the 2-2 draw at Fulham’s Craven Cottage 12 months later. Since then, Carrick never came to the spot and Nani just did it to fail again against Galatasaray in the Champions League.
Penalties taken by Wayne Rooney since playing for Manchester United
- Braga-MU 1-3, scored
- MU-Arsenal 2-1, missed
- MU- Aston Villa 4-0, scored
- MU-Queens Park Rangers 2-0, scored
- MU-West Bromwich Albion 2-0, scored
- MU-Athletic Club 2-3, scored
- Chelsea-MU 3-3, two penalties scored
- MU-Bolton 3-0, missed
- Manchester City-MU 2-3, scored after keeper’s deflection
- Otelul Galati 0-2, two penalties scored
- MU-Chelsea 3-1, missed
- MU-Arsenal 8-2, scored
- Blackburn-MU 1-1, scored
- West Ham United-MU 2-4, scored
- MU-Arsenal 1-0, missed
- Glasgow Rangers-MU 0-1, scored
- MU-West Ham 1-0, scored
- MU-Liverpool 2-1, scored after keeper’s deflection
- MU-Wolverhapton 3-0, scored
- Portsmouth-MU 1-4, two penalties scored
- MU-Arsenal 2-1, scored
- Aston Villa-MU 1-4, missed
- MU-Crystal Palace 5-2, missed
- Giggs: Chelsea-MU 5-4, scored
- Van Persie: Liverpool-MU 1-2, scored
- Nani: MU-Galatasaray 1-0, missed
- Chicharito: MU-Wigan 4-0, missed
- Van Persie: Southampton-MU 2-3, missed
- Chicharito: MU-Stoke City 2-0, scored
- Berbatov: MU-Stoke City 2-0, scored
- Berbatov: MU-Wigan Athletic 2-0, scored
- Macheda: MU-Crystal Palace 1-2, scored
- Giggs: MU-Liverpool 1-0, scored
- Nani: Fulham-MU 2-2, missed
- Giggs: MU-Tottenham Hotspur 3-1, two penalties scored
- Carrick: Burnley-MU 1-0, missed