He Goes by the Name of…

13 seasons at Manchester United is one hell of an achievement, especially when you consider the heights they rose to during that period. Wayne Rooney is quite simply an Old Trafford legend due to his contribution to a very successful period in the Red Devil’s history.

When Rooney burst onto the scene with Everton, scoring that wonderful goal against Arsenal – a goal that stopped a lengthy unbeaten run for the Gunners, we all knew that this was going to be no flash in the pan. He was just 16 but he was built like a man, Sol Campbell struggled to handle him that day. It was no surprise that Sir Alex Ferguson was willing to splash nearly £30 million on him just over a year later, we all knew that it was risk free (even at that price) such was this lad’s talent. In Sir Alex’s book he mentions trying to get Rooney from Everton when he was much younger, he wouldn’t budge as he was such a big Everton fan. I have no difficulty believing he wears Everton pyjamas.

With the natural ability that he possessed he had to play in the Champions League, he probably would’ve never left Everton if they were competing at the time. It was quite fitting that he made his debut in Europe’s elite competition. How did he do? Not bad, I’m sure you’d agree. A marvellous hat-trick on his debut, only the second Manchester United player to achieve that feat (the other’s a distant relative of mine, curiously). He had become a vital part of the team in 2008 when United went on to lift the trophy in Moscow. If it wasn’t for that remarkable Barcelona team he might’ve added to that winner’s medal. He also won 5 Premier Leagues, 1 FA Cup, 3 League Cups, 1 World Club Cup and 1 Europa League – not a bad haul. Becoming the club’s all-time leading goal scorer was just the icing on the cake.

Even with the best players in history there are always going to be a few negatives, Rooney had more than a few. The debacle with United not being “ambitious enough” for him was scandalous and it really has tainted his legacy with a huge number of fans. Signing a bumper new contract just a few weeks later showed his naivety, he was given terrible advice and went about things the wrong way. Sir Alex gave him a final jab when he retired to make sure he had the final word. By this time Rooney was starting to struggle on the pitch as well, it has been quite a few years since we’ve seen consistent quality from him – I’m amazed the media (and United managers) let him get away with it for so long.

Everton come to Old Trafford on 17th September, I’m certain he’ll get a good reception. He absolutely deserves it. It will also be an opportunity to try and show the world that he still has a lot to offer football, I’m personally not convinced he has much left in him but I’d like to see him do well at Everton. It feels a bit like he’s going to Everton to retire but he’s got plenty years left in him if he wants to put the work in – I’d hate to see him continue to struggle like he has done for the last few years.

I wonder if regular game time at Everton will allow him to break back into the England squad, I hope so for his sake. The national side aren’t exactly blessed with quality up front, Harry Kane is the exception of course. Rooney has never been a natural leader but many current players do look up to him and he seems to be popular in the group, this could help us at the World Cup in Russia even if he doesn’t get much game time.

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