Before you start screaming at the headline, calm down and read this very objectively.
Okay, we good? Hear me out:
Here are three reasons to give Oumar Niasse a healthy share of starts at the #9 position, ahead of Wayne Rooney. In this argument I’m assuming that Koeman prefers Sandro Ramirez in a wide role as much as possible, at least until Yannick Bolasie returns. This leaves the competition for the nine slot to being between Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Rooney, and Niasse, and with our current health situation DCL (and his great form) is needed out wide.
Rooney is currently embroiled in controversy; Niasse is excelling
Media attention is not what Wayne Rooney needs right now, nor is media attention on Wayne Rooney what Everton needs. Him having some time to sort out his family and legal situation (court date on September 16th) so that he can return to the pitch fully focused on his efforts for Everton would be a positive for everyone.
On the flip side, Ronald Koeman has heaped praise on Niasse for his professionalism, and it would be a very good look for the club to reward that good behaviour and strong attitude with minutes. It also sends a very clear message to the locker room about what kind of behaviour will and won’t be tolerated.
Rooney is an old man
Let’s face it, if Wayne Rooney spends the whole first half of the season as an every week starter, he’s going to be gassed when we get to the business end of the Premier League season. Regardless of his off the field issues, he needs weeks off just so that when we are in the latter stages of the Europa League (our best chance at both silverware and also at making the Champion’s League for next season) he is ready to go with all the abilities left to him.
The younger Niasse is a bit more pacy, and frankly we can run him into the ground the first half of the year, buy reinforcements in January, and send him back to oblivion in 2018 and it’ll still be a net positive for the club.
Rooney can become a super sub
There’s no reason to try to contest the idea that Rooney is more of a difference maker on the pitch that Niasse is, that’s fine. But there’s also no reason to contest the notion that Rooney isn’t a difference maker for 90 minutes at a time. Let him come on at the hour mark, with fresh legs, and let him challenge centerhalves more tired than him in the decisive minutes of matches. Let Oumar run himself to death knowing he’s only gonna be out there for an hour and doesn’t have to go all 90, paving the way for Mr. 200 Premier League Goals to come on and make the difference late.
What it would look like this weekend:
This weekend against Tottenham Hotspur, a lineup with Niasse heroically leading the line would look something like this:
Frankly, I think my suggestion here works even better when Klaassen is fit because then we can move DCL to the bench and put Sigurdsson on the wing with Klaassen sitting behind the forwards. This lineup gives us more pace (including DCL against Ben Davies this weekend which would just be wonderful), younger legs, and the ability to bring our trustworthy goalscorer off the bench, fresh, in crunch time.
More professionalism at the moment, younger legs, and the maximizing of Rooney’s current abilities all suggest that this may be the right time to let Oumar Niasse get his big chance to shine.
Hit me in the comments to tell me how much I’m wrong.