Tag Archives: Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney: United Legend?

The major talking point of Twitter, and indeed Talk Sport, who ran a poll on it after the Manchester United vs. Reading game, in which Wayne Rooney equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 club goals is, unsurprisingly, a Wayne Rooney one. Not the one where he was congratulated for his scoring feat but rather the debate which continually rages over Wayne Rooney, our club captain, and the exact nature of his legendary status as his career draws to a close.

In the distasteful poll, Talk Sport enquired as to whether Sir Bobby Charlton or Wayne Rooney was the biggest legend at Manchester United. Whilst some dismissed the poll as a joke, others became aggressive that Wayne Rooney should be compared to Sir Bobby Charlton, and went on to extol the virtues of the latter compared with the younger man.

All of this bitterness and furore which the achievement evoked left a sour taste in my mouth. Particularly given the fact that the pair about whom this argument entails have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for one another.

In this article, I will not be drawing a direct comparison between Sir Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney, particularly given the fact that no Manchester United fan I know of disputes the former’s legendary status.   However, Mark Goldbridge, of our very own United Stand, reflected that the past few years of Rooney’s tenure at Manchester United had seen such a steep decline in his overall effectiveness and telling contribution to the team and that he was not a Manchester United legend.

Added to this is the feeling that Wayne Rooney’s flirtation with our City rivals in the summer of 2010 which forced even the redoubtable Sir Alex Ferguson into budging over contract demands, has demanded that regardless of exploits, his reputation irks to the degree that he does not merit legendary status. With all of these factors in mind, we will now take a look at Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United career and ask ourselves is Wayne Rooney truly a Manchester United legend?

Our tale begins over 12 years ago, when Manchester United paid out a then record amount for a young player under 20.  Indeed, Rooney was still only 18 but had already inspired Sir Alex Ferguson to stop at no sum in order to bring the hottest young prospect in Europe to Old Trafford. At this juncture, in Rooney’s fledgling career, he had already proven his merits in a simply outstanding Euro 2004 where he had scored four goals, become the youngest goal scorer in the history of the combination and been named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.  Undoubtedly, Sir Alex might have strongly suspected he would reap the rewards from his purchase but little would even he have expected Rooney’s astonishing introduction. He made his debut in a 6-2 Champions League victory over Fenerbahçe where he scored a hat trick and even got an assist. The hat trick meant that again he became the youngest player to ever score a hat trick in the Champions League and although Manchester United failed to take a trophy, despite totally dominating Arsenal in the FA Cup that year, Rooney top scored with 11 goals for the season. Additionally, he was awarded with PFA Young Player of Year for his efforts during his debut season.  To put into context, how phenomenal an achievement this was, the only other Manchester United player to win this award since the turn of the century, is Cristiano Ronaldo, once, and Rooney won it twice. In fact, in the entire history of that trophy of 43 years, only 2 others have won the award twice, Robbie Fowler and Ryan Giggs. Ryan Giggs’ legendary status is undisputed for his accomplishments with our club.

Furthermore, Rooney won The Goal of the Season award for his effort against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.  A feat he would later repeat twice more in his career thus far, leaving him the only man standing alone, on a mark of three of these prestigious awards. When you think of the amazing depth and calibre of players we have seen since this award’s inception in the 1970-71 season till present day, this mark is well worth acknowledging.

During the 2005-6 season, Rooney won his first trophy with United the League Cup, scoring twice in the final and being awarded Man of the Match. He also scored 16 goals in 26 Premier League games during this season. As well as the Young Player of the Year award, Rooney picked up the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year Award. Sadly, we missed out on a title in this season, with Rooney sustaining a broken metatarsal in a 3-0 defeat to eventual champions Chelsea which left us runners up during this period of Manchester United transition.

In the 2006-7 season, Rooney was integral as Manchester United won the Premier League, Rooney’s first Premier League title and he scored 14 league goals.  Manchester United would go close in the Champions League, exiting to a Kaka inspired Milan team, who proved too strong in the San Siro. However, the first leg showed Rooney’s import to the team when he equalised from a quite brilliant Paul Scholes improvised hooked through ball and then showed a supreme piece of opportunism in striking the winner magnificently first time, in injury time, to win us the match.  At this point, Cristiano Ronaldo won the main individual awards at the end of the season but Rooney had proven himself an invaluable asset with his work ethic, goals and overall play. The two combined indeed, superbly for a counter attack goal against Bolton which secured Rooney his 2nd Goal of the Season award.

The 2007-8 season was a season where Rooney was hampered with injuries, missing 6 weeks for a fractured metatarsal in his left foot and also injuring his ankle but managed to end the season with 12 league goals (18 goals overall) as Manchester United won the League and the Champions League. By this juncture, Rooney was being forced often into more of a left wing role at times because of Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational goal scoring season.  The football played during this year was absolutely scintillating, and Rooney was a major part of that as part of an incredible attacking triumvirate with Ronaldo and Tevez.

In 2008-9, Wayne Rooney ended the season with 20 goals overall (12 league ones) as Manchester United again won the league and fell just short in the UCL final against Barcelona of an as yet never accomplished record of retaining the Champions League. The season was notable for Rooney for one performance against Tottenham Hotspur in the latter stages of the campaign where Manchester United came from two goals down at half time to win 5-2. Rooney scored two, set up two and provided the assist for Carrick to win the penalty for the first as the other.  It was, in short, an incredible individual performance and one that was integral at such a key stage of our title tilt.

In 2009-10 despite a season in which Manchester United only ended up winning the League Cup, Rooney enjoyed his 2nd best goal return for the Red Devils, notching 26 goals in the Premier League. It was to be the outstanding nature of these performances which not only resulted in the contract dispute, which I alluded to at the start of this article, but also Rooney winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year for the first time.

In October of the 2010-11 season, Sir Alex Ferguson stated in a press conference that Rooney wanted to quit the club. Rooney was angered that Sir Alex was keeping him rested for longer than he deemed necessary and that he wanted to leave due to the club’s seeming lack of ambition. This could be evidenced by letting go of world class players such as Ronaldo in 2009 and not bringing in top class replacements.  The player Rooney brought up in his talks with Sir Alex at the time was the fact that we hadn’t pursued Mesut Ozil who had joined Real Madrid from Werder Bremen. In Sir Alex’s autobiography it is clear that he holds no ill feeling towards Rooney and that it was not a monetary affair.

“It was a sorry episode for Wayne because it portrayed him as a money man who had dropped his grievance the minute his salary was raised. That’s the way it was presented, but I don’t think it was Wayne’s intention to make it a financial issue. It blew over quickly. With the fans, however, there was a residue of mistrust.”

This perfectly sums up how the dispute coloured the view of a significant proportion of Manchester United fans who still hold a lingering grudge against Rooney for his behaviour at the time. However, who can really blame Rooney when you see how, only a few years onwards, that the squad did need a dramatic overhaul which Jose has started to facilitate in the summer of 2016. Furthermore, rather than disrespecting Sir Alex, in a statement he released he said that “For Manchester United’s sake I wish he could go on forever because he’s a one off and a genius.”

By the spring things were forgotten between the pair especially when the record 19th League title was secured with Rooney scoring the penalty to equalise at Ewood Park to win us the title. The season was also particularly noteworthy, due to Rooney scoring an overhead kick for the ages against Manchester City. The goal not only gave Rooney his third Goal of the Season Award but was also awarded the Best Goal in the 20 Seasons Awards and Ferguson described it as the best goal he had ever seen at Old Trafford.

In the 2011-12 season, Rooney enjoyed his most prolific season scoring 27 League goals, bettering his previous best mark in 2009-10 where he had scored 26 but was again runner up for the prestigious Golden Boot. Sadly, that season Manchester United lost out on the title on goal difference despite the fact that Rooney had outscored Sergio Aguero (23).

In the 2012-13 season, Rooney was again required to play second fiddle, to the man to whom he had lost the Golden Boot to the previous season, new signing Robin Van Persie. This season Rooney still scored 12 league goals, 2 of which were in the 3-2 victory over City that, I feel had proven so monumental in our reward that spring, the 20th Premier League title.  Again, Rooney as he had one with Ronaldo, had still done well despite playing 2nd fiddle to another player.

In the 2013-14 season, Rooney during an incredibly difficult transitional period under David Moyes still managed to hit 17 league goals as Manchester United’s top scorer and 4th equal on the overall scoring charts. Also he was top for assists with 10 in the league and had the most assists in the 2013-14 Champions League with 8 out of any player in the Champions League.  All of this during a season in which United finished 7th marked a good personal year but an atrocious one for the club.  This was reinforced by him being named club captain the summer of 2014 by Louis Van Gaal after Vidic’s departure.

During the 2014/15 season, under Louis Van Gaal, Rooney was often utilised as a midfielder but was again top scorer for the season with 14 goals.  Again, Rooney had shown his worth even if the football under Van Gaal had been extremely cagey and uninspiring, with the team recording its 2nd worst ever goals tally in the Premier League.

In 2015/16 Rooney endured a torrid time with injuries and was again used in a midfield role as it appeared that was where he and Louis Van Gaal saw his career being prolonged. The highlight was a majestic mazy dribble against Crystal Palace and cross which lead to the equaliser in the dying minutes of our FA Cup triumph.

During all of these fallow years than for Manchester United, Rooney has proven himself our top scorer, often having played in midfield and has also had many assists as is shown factually above. Furthermore, would we even have an FA Cup trophy had he not torn up the Van Gaal tactics sheet to go on that run?

In conclusion, there is a reason why I have run through a brief summation of Wayne Rooney’s career. It is to allow you, dear reader, the benefit of being allowed to make your own decision based on the facts and figures of Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United career, the trophies and personal accolades he has won whilst at the club.

There will always be fans that dismiss people who champion Rooney’s cause as “Rooney Fan Boys” but as I watched Rooney’s plethora of highlights, researching for this article, I couldn’t help but feel myself smile with pure pleasure. There have been moments of unadulterated brilliance that should never be forgotten. For the players who played with Rooney, there is nothing but respect and admiration when they talk of him, Scholes, Giggs, Neville and Ferdinand to name but a few.

There is an argument to be made that Rooney’s influence and contribution is on the decline. A brief look at Rooney’s appearance total gives, to my mind, the main reason why. As of the time of writing he has 543 Manchester United appearances, putting him 6th in the overall standings, but all the players ahead of him played for many more years than him. In fact, of those five players that have played more than him, only three have played for our club within the last 40 years, namely Gary Neville, Scholes and Giggs and all of them played for the club for twenty years. Put simply, Rooney has definitely put in the work for United over the last decade or so but has borne the brunt of his exertions. Rooney’s records certainly evince his inclusion as a legend but again, it is your, the reader’s, decision as to whether he is or not.

I will just leave you with the quote from Lionel Messi, which sums up my own feelings towards Rooney:

“Wayne Rooney is for me a once in a generation player. One of those special players, who is not comparable to any other. There are many special players, but Rooney has exceptional quality and technical ability as well as being one of the strongest players I have faced with an exceptional work rate- there is nobody like him.”

 

Time to Unite behind Wayne Rooney

115: The number of times Wayne Rooney has represented England. 53: the amount in which the ball has found the back of the net courtesy of the English captain; more than any other player. These numbers are associated with only the best of players; those of world-class ability can only achieve.

Yet some “fans” for lack of better term, booed Wayne Rooney. It is of no secret that the Manchester United player is facing the most challenging time of his career. His form has been poor to start the season and he is having his immediate future being doubted by many as each performance goes by.

However, the lack of respect shown to Rooney was nothing short of appalling. The English fans present at the Malta game portrayed a lack of class to a player who has served them with such loyalty over the last decade.

When these individuals boo the United and English captain, do they boo the times be rushed recovery previous to the 2006 and 2014 World Cups? What about the time he lit up the 2004 European championship?

This is why Manchester United fans residing in England have no desire to support the English side. There is a history of English fans disrespecting United players from Beckham, the Neville brothers, Scholes and now Rooney.

Manchester United fans like to say they are the best in the world. Let’s get behind our captain.
Regardless of Rooney’s future performances; regardless of if he never laces his boots again, let Manchester United fans everywhere show the class that is associated with us.

Wayne Rooney is not finished. Over the next month, the world will be able to see if the record goal-scorer can still be a squad player to the benefit of the team.

Everyone around the world who supports this club, support your team; support your captain. Because the best fans in the world support our own.

Next stop Anfield. Over to you, Captain.

Your Aussie Correspondent.

Wayne Rooney – He’s Not Really Finished, Is He?

Wayne Rooney, now there’s a man who divides opinion…

On one hand, there is the club captain, the on-field leader who bleeds for the cause, key to the club’s many triumphs of the past 12 years. On the other hand is a player who is a shadow of his former self, a man who claims to have little to prove but is riding on his reputation of days gone by rather than his current form.

It’s a debate which has roared on for some time now, since his below-par performances during the LVG era (let’s face it though, not many have emerged from that with much credit), to his selection in England’s Euro 2016 failure and now to United’s new era, the one which promises so much.

Wayne Rooney celebrates his winner at Liverpool (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Wayne Rooney celebrates his winner at Liverpool (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

The Mourinho era has started with a bang. A convincing 3-1 win over Bournemouth had glimpses of what may be to come but it was a number of comments afterwards which interested me.

“He’s finished” was a popular phrase. “Sell him now” said another. “Worst player on the pitch”…. They kept on coming. And this despite the fact that Rooney scored United’s second of the afternoon, and his 246th for the club putting him only three goals shy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s club goal scoring record.

And then came the most staggering of all, a poll ran on our own Twitter page which enraged me, merely for the result. The question? “If you had to sell one, who would it be? Wayne Rooney or Marouane Fellaini?” Of course, Fellaini came out on top, with 65% of the vote. However, it was the 35% which really made me question our fanbase. The poll attracted 2,384 votes, which meant that 835 of you would rather see a man who has been utterly terrible in his three years at the club in a Manchester United shirt than a man who has scored 246 goals, won five Premier League titles, one Champions League, one World Club Cup, two League Cups and an FA Cup in his 12 years at the club.

Honestly? Really?

One good game against Bournemouth does not merit this kind of reaction. We all know that Fellaini doesn’t belong in a United shirt. He personifies the club’s least successful period of the Premier League era.

Rooney scores penalty to send Sheffield United out of the FA Cup (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Rooney scores penalty to send Sheffield United out of the FA Cup (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

As for Rooney, is he faultless? No. Is he the player he was? No, of course not. However, players adapt with age. LVG trialed Rooney in a midfield role towards the end of last season, as did Roy Hodgson for England in the summer. For me, Rooney looked like this is a role he could adapt do quite swiftly. However, that was soon put to bed when Jose Mourinho stated upon his arrival that he does not see his captain as a number 8 or a number 6, but a number 10. Against Bournemouth, whether you like it or not, it worked. Yes, he misplaced passes, lost control of the ball a little too often for his liking, but it still worked. His mere presence created issues for the opposition. Ok, we all know he wasn’t superb, as stated by Danny Murphy on Match Of The Day, but it showed early promise.

And then it got me thinking about other former captains. Were they subjected to the same level of abuse as they came to the twilight of their careers. Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs? No, of course they didn’t. Neville and Vidic in particular were nowhere near the type of player they were in their latter years as they were in their peak, but did we shout and scream for the club to sell them? Of course not. In fact, if I remember rightly, there wasn’t many a fan that was too thrilled when Vidic decided to leave the club to join Inter Milan.

Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney lift the International Champions Cup (Picture: ibtimes.co.uk)
Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney lift the International Champions Cup (Picture: ibtimes.co.uk)

Giggs is a fantastic example. As he reached his early to mid-thirties, can anyone claim he was anywhere near the same player he was in his twenties? The mazy runs were gone, the electric pace had disappeared. What we were left with was still an excellent player, although one of a completely different mould. Paul Scholes was the same.

The fact is, it has become fashionable to criticise Wayne Rooney. In an era where every game can be scrutinised right down to the last little detail, it is easy to find fault within his game, more so than ever before with the amount of cameras, slow motion replays and statistics at our disposal. The same can be said of any player of course, but Rooney seems to be getting the brunt of it.

Rooney scores stunning overhead kick against Man City
Rooney scores stunning overhead kick against Man City

Hence the question after Sunday’s game, to which Rooney responded that he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone, a comment which angered many. I saw one fan question how Rooney doesn’t have anything to prove, yet Zlatan does. Well, simply put, Zlatan does have something to prove. He’s only just joined the club. Granted, it isn’t going to tarnish his career if he was to fail (which he won’t, I know), but he does have to prove his worth to Manchester United as a club. Rooney, after everything he has achieved at Old Trafford, should be afforded the luxury of not having to prove himself to the fans. We wouldn’t have expected Giggs, or Scholes, or the many more that were pivotal to United’s success over the last 25 years or so to have to prove their worth, so why should we with Wayne?

Let me get this straight, Wayne Rooney could still land a club at the very highest level, and I would thoroughly expect the likes of Chelsea or Manchester City to by vying for his signature if the minority were to get their way. And, on that note, I’ll end on this…just be careful what you wish for…

Rooney happy in midfield role and hopes to extend contract

As Mourinho gets accustomed to the role of Manchester United manager, he will be devising a plan to bring his team back to the top of the premiership. Within those considerations will be captain Wayne Rooney and how to best utilise the record goal-scorer in the team.

According to the Daily Mail, Rooney is eyeing a permanent move to central midfield, a role in which he has been deployed in the latter stages of the season for United and currently for England in the Euros.

The Englishman has acknowledged he is no longer the same player that burst onto the scene with a hat-trick with a canning ability to skip past defenders and place fear into a goalkeeper. Rather, Rooney realises what Sir Alex Ferguson identified three seasons ago: the forward needs to move into midfield to prolong his career at Manchester United.

Wayne Rooney scores hat-trick on United debut against Fenerbahce (Picture: dailymail.co.uk)
Wayne Rooney scores hat-trick on United debut against Fenerbahce (Picture: dailymail.co.uk)

There is no doubting, while gifted, the Everton-product will need time to adjust into his new role. Rooney’s performance against Russia in the Euros portrayed his ability to dictate the pace of the game while illustrating the skill to execute a long-range pass and pick out a ball for a striker.

However, while effortless, Rooney provided a less-convincing performance against Wales, losing the ball and choosing the wrong pass.

It is worth noting Rooney, while experienced, is fairly new to a midfield role. He is also playing with Eric Dier and Deli Alli: talented, but young footballers who do not have the ability to dictate game-play.

That makes Rooney’s performances for England more difficult, given he is expected to run a game despite playing less than half a season in that position.

This will not be an issue at United with many talented midfielders such as Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin and Carrick who can dictate play, freeing Rooney to push forward as a box-to-box midfielder and present a goal threat.

Wayne Rooney has adopted a midfield role for both club and country (Picture: blog.paddypower.com)
Wayne Rooney has adopted a midfield role for both club and country (Picture: blog.paddypower.com)

Having played as a first or second striker for the majority of his career, it also provides United with a player who understands the runs a striker will attempt to make.

It will take time, but Wayne Rooney has all the tools to be a success in midfield, thus prolonging his career at Manchester United. With three years to run on the English and Manchester United captain’s contract, time will be afforded for performances to be at a level expected. Mourinho’s recent sentiments suggesting Rooney can retire at United also work into his favour.

He will always have his critics, but expect Rooney to flourish in a midfield role. Who knows? He might just earn himself a stay at Old Trafford for life.

Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand.

Adnan Januzaj – Could He Be The Man To Answer LVG’s SOS?

Adnan Januzaj…remember him? You know, the 20-year-old Belgian wonderkid. Yes, of course you do. Well, he’s back, and ready to answer Louis Van Gaal’s SOS (Save Our Season).

It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Adnan Januzaj since he broke into the first team squad in 2013. An unused substitute in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game for the club, the youngster became the one major plus point of David Moyes’ ill-fated reign the season following, with some even claiming that he could be the new Cristiano Ronaldo (well, that was me). However, it is fair to say that since Louis Van Gaal took over at the club his progress has been, well, mooted at best.

Used sparingly during Van Gaal’s first season in charge, Januzaj actually began this campaign by starting four of the opening five fixtures, scoring the winner against Aston Villa in the second game of the season. However, after a disappointing 45 minutes against Club Brugge in the Champions League Second Leg Qualifier, LVG decided to let the club’s new number 11 leave on loan and he headed to Germany to join Borussia Dortmund (despite much Premier League interest). Later, Van Gaal admitted that he would have preferred it if Januzaj had stayed in England, hinting that had he joined a ‘lesser club’, his opportunities may have been more frequent. As it turns out, on this occasion, he was right.

It is fair to say that Januzaj’s time in Dortmund has been a disaster. With only three starts, all of which came in the Europa League, United have made a collective decision that recalling the attacker would be the best option, and it could prove to be a timely addition. After all, Januzaj is a favourite amongst the fans having risen through the ranks and it is no secret that the club likes to see ‘one of their own’ go on to achieve success.

Januzaj can be one of those frustrating figures. It is plain to see that he has bags of potential, potential that could see him turn into a truly great player if he is nurtured right. Arguably, LVG halted that progress last season with his reluctance to utilise him. However, it is no secret that attacking options are at an all-time low right now, with Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney the only experienced attackers in the squad. Currently, Juan Mata is the man preferred on the right wing, with Martial on the left and Rooney playing down the middle. Mata, in my humble opinion, is wasted on the right with a lack of pace and a natural instinct that often sees him drift towards the middle. Januzaj, however, on the right wing, coupled with Marital on the left, would offer pace on both flanks.

Currently, United have scored only 24 league goals in 20 games. Januzaj may not score bags of goals (although he can certainly chip in), but he can create. I, for one, applaud the decision to bring him back to the club. I only hope that he is given the opportunity to elevate himself and this weekends game against Sheffield United could be the perfect stepping stone.