Wayne Rooney’s attacking heatmap, using Opta data, over the past 4 league seasons for Man United.
BTW, as with all of these heatmaps, a huge thanks goes to Constantinos Chappas who created the code that enables them to be produced.
2010/11 to 2013/14 Premier League Seasons
2010/11 and 2011/12 were quite similar with Rooney playing the role of the main Centre Forward on the United team during these two seasons. Very rarely was he required to play deep enough to make many passes in his own defensive half during these two seasons.
Robin van Persie joined United at the start of the 2012/13 season, and we can clearly see the different role that Rooney was asked to play from that point on.
His heatmap is much more widely spread, especially defensively. In this 2012/13 season he dropped deeper as his defensive duties increased and he took on a more creative role. No longer was Rooney required to be the main goalscorer.
He notched up more than 2 Key Passes per90 in this term, up from the 1.5 that he had during the 2011/12 campaign. Unsurprisingly, his shots volume dropped to 3.6 per90 from a mark of 4.5 the year before.
Rooney’s attacking heatmap for last term is broadly similar to that of the 2012/13 season, however, it appears that he didn’t function as much in the very centre of the pitch as he has done for the previous 3 years. We can see that he has some heatspots, signifying a lot of attacking actions, just to the right and left of centre during the 2013/14 season.
Whether this was a deliberate decision driven by Moyes to actively find pockets of space or simply a quirk of one season’s data I am not sure. Incidentally, the location of his involvements did not change much after Mata’s arrival as his heatmap before and after the end of January (when Mata arrived) show very little differences.
As has been posted previously here on Statsbomb, Wayne Rooney has been asked to play differing roles during his time at Old Trafford. Before the arrival of RVP he was the main goal getter for United, but that changed at the start of the 2012/13 season. However, regardless of the role that he is asked to play he has tended to deliver for the Red Devils.