28 September 2004: A fresh-faced 18 year old Wayne Rooney marked his debut for Manchester United against Fenerbahce, scoring a stunning hattrick to send Old Trafford rocking. Another star was born, much to the envy of other sides in the Premiership.
Fast forward to 30 March 2016: The Express are reporting Wayne Rooney is seeking a meeting with Jose Mourinho, the man expected to be appointed United manager, to have assurances provided over his place in the first team from next season and beyond.
The problem there is within itself. If Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United and English captain, needs to seek assurances over his spot, then Rooney must know his form is not where it needs to be. Can you imagine Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Robert Lewandowski, requiring guarantees over their position? These men prove themselves every time they play for their club and country; they demand selection.
Why would I compare Rooney to these players? The United captain is one of the highest earners in world football, allegedly earning up to £300,000 a week and from what he has achieved at the club, rightfully so. But if you want to demand big money, you need to display great performances on a consistent basis.
Wayne Rooney is a legend. He has 244 goals, just 5 short of Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal scoring record for United, and has been a major part of United’s 5 Premier League and the 2008 Champions League triumphs and as recently as the turbulent season under Moyes, displayed real leadership in being a constantly good player in what was United’s worst season in over two decades.
The Englishman has also given us many wonderful memories. As previously mentioned, his phenomenal debut, his volley against Newcastle, his toiler-like efforts, The Beckam-like bomb against West ham.. and who will ever forget THAT bicycle against our cross-town neighbours? (Still stings, doesn’t it, City?)
But he is declining. In Season 2011-12, Rooney scored 27 goals and had 10 assists in the Premier league. One season later, with Robin Van Persie joining the Englishman up front, Rooney returned a solid 12 goals and 11 assists.
To Rooney’s own detriment, he is versatile and has had to play deeper at times to the benefit of the team; however, this season, Rooney was finally given the opportunity in his preferred role at centre-forward.
22 appearances later, a disappointing 7 goals and 4 assists. Let’s get something straight, this is not all Rooney’s doing. United’s attack as a whole has been much-maligned this season; but the flip-side of that is United arguably play with more pace and precision with Rashford and Martial in the front 3.
Normally, Rooney would walk back into the team; however, the emergence of youngster Marcus Rashford is coincidentally, doing a Rooney on Rooney. He is making the same noises and getting the United fans something to cheer about in what has been a disappointing season.
For someone of Wayne’s ability, he will occasionally hit a patch of form as we saw in January when Rooney had his best run of form, but these performances have become the exception rather than the norm.
As Sir Alex Ferguson famously announced, when Wayne scores, he scores many; but when he doesn’t score, he goes a fair while without scoring.
United are likely to appoint Jose Mourinho in the summer – and there’s a feeling that, as hard as it is, United need to let go of the ‘Ferguson era’ and establish a new kind of dominance. The shadow of Ferguson will loom while ever the club is unsuccessful, and Rooney is a major part of that. He has been a part of the clubs years of dominance, but the form he had in those days have long passed.
Rooney’s days of running past people are gone; his ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck have finished.
Selfishly, he will be hesitant to leave; he wants to break Charlton’s record. But given the performances we have produced in his absence, a part of him must know the end is near. As each game passes that his form deserts him, the whispers of his decline will become roars.
Rooney will always be a great and he deserves to be remembered in a good light. Come back from injury, secure the club a top 4 finish, and progress into the sunset.
Mourinho needs to make a big call when he arrives, and that call should result in Wayne leaving to China or the States for one final pay-day.
We love you Wayne, but it’s time to go.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand.