A few days back, I had come across an article on Rooney that lucidly described his time at the club – from the way Fergie drove personally to Everton in 2004 to get him to how SAF openly expressed his dismay at the player’s decision to hand in a transfer request a few months back, for the second time during his stay at Manchester United and from being compared to Pele by Eriksen at 18 to being left on bench in the game of the season against Real Madrid.
I was disappointed by the article, it was by a Red Devil and he openly criticized Wayne’s moves, repeatedly stating that he deliberately wanted to gain the club’s attention, wanted to increase his payroll as well as remind the manager that he was almost the only superstar left at the club (this is not taking into consideration RVP, for Robin is just a year old at United). While all that may be true, and definitely Manchester United is bigger than any player, but perhaps we have been treating Wayne a bit too hard.
Why? I mean look at it this way, the boy has almost been synonymous with the club during his stay at United, from that amazing debut against Fenerbache in September 2004 to that unforgettable overhead kick against City in February 2011. He has got nearly 200 goals for the club, has won everything there is to win, and how beautifully did he rise to the occasion after Ronaldo left in 2009, as he banged in 34 goals in the 2009-10 season (although we just won the Carling Cup that season), and how he helped us to that CL Final against Barca in 2011. He even scored a very beautiful goal in that game, coming from a one-two with Giggsy.
Last season, he even happily sacrificed his natural position to accommodate RVP. He adapted to the midfield, and was deployed at the tip of the diamond formation. The reason Rooney has had to adapt is because of Sir Alex’s prolonged midfield conundrum. Scholes was waning and Giggs a sparing presence. Darren Fletcher looked like he will remain further on the sidelines and Anderson is waiting to push open the exit door.
That left the trio of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese has failed to find his feet in his first United season and Cleverley has been an impressive starlet who has still to hit top gear. Result: Carrick is the only mainstay in midfield. He too is 31 now. And given Rooney’s flexible nature, he was the man to fill in yet again.
Now, I have never played for a top level club, but what I do understand is this – you are at the top of your career (Wazza is 27 now), you are banging in goals, and all of a sudden that changes. You are now being deployed as an AM (a position which he adapted very well too, if you recall that away game to Stoke last season which we had won 2-0), so it is only natural that you feel threatened about your future. But even in that state, he has been unselfish and scored 22 goals and set up 10 more from that position, worked brilliantly for the team, that led RVP to describe his and Rooney’s combo as “a nine and a half”—all that in an injury-marred season.
The one-time PFA Players’ Player of the Year winner is now nearing a decade with the Old Trafford club. He has seen a tremendous transformation of sorts; now a settled maestro compared to the blitzkrieg of a talent who made his way from Everton to Manchester, taking the football world by storm with his amazing goal-scoring display in Euro 2004.
His morale has surely been on the decline, so just imagine what a few good goals as a striker might have done to it?
Plus there is the World Cup next year to worry about, where England surely need someone like Roo’s class to be able to pose any challenge at all.
Having said all this, I really want Rooney to stay here at the Theatre of Dreams. He could go on to settle down as a midfield general now, or raise his worth to an even higher level as a forward, which comes to him more naturally, in the coming seasons and then play out his career at Old Trafford reminiscent to Scholes on trekking to the other side of 30.