Goals for Manchester United… 253. Goals for England… 53 . These numbers make Wayne Rooney the highest ever goalscorer for both Manchester United and England, yet many still would like to make others think that he wasn’t all that good.
He joined United from Everton as a young 18-year-old for a fee of £25m in 2004, and became an instant hit as he scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut in a 6-2 win against Turkish side Fenerbahce. That season, as United finished trophy less, Rooney was the club’s top scorer in the league with eleven goals and won the PFA’s young player of the year award.
In 2008 he reached the pinnacle of his club career , where his goals helped United win the Premier League and European Champions League in a season where him and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo combined very well to make Manchester United the best side in Europe. During that period Rooney was pretty much at a ‘world class level’, on a par with Lionel Messi and his team-mate Ronaldo. Unfortunately for us, while Messi and Ronaldo (who joined Real Madrid in 2009) kept delivering constantly for their Spanish clubs, Wayne Rooney hardly ever reached such a high level again.
His fall with many United fans started way back in 2010, six years after joining the club from Everton when he made it known that he wanted to move away from the club. To make matters worse, he confirmed that he wanted a transfer to United’s ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City, stating that the Red Devils lacked ambition. From then on, even after Sir Alex persuaded him to stay and he managed to score 34 goals that season (26 of which in the league), lots of United fans couldn’t find it in themselves to take Rooney into their hearts again, as they felt betrayed by him and what he was trying to do.
Although he stayed for a further seven years at the club, his star started waning slowly and he couldn’t recapture his old form that saw him lauded as the best England player of his generation. Many couldn’t wait to see him leave the club, and his ‘great’ performances for United became few and far between.
In his last two seasons at Old Trafford, it was clear to see that he was not the player he once was and he wasn’t as influential as he had once been, and it seems that he only stayed just so he could break Sir Bobby Charlton’s record. The way I saw it I didn’t really want to see Rooney break the record of a real Manchester United legend, but when he did I was happy that someone did it in our lifetime. Remember that Rooney also broke Sir Bobby’s England record, one that had stood for 47 years! Not even England legends like Jimmy Greaves and Gary Lineker (yes, the MotD presenter was once a very good forward) could beat it.
So for all his misgivings and lack of professionalism (sometimes), Wayne Rooney will always be in the record books of one of the best and most popular football sides in the world as well as England’s national side. Of course, he could have been even better if he had immersed himself into his career as well as players like Ronaldo and Messi have, and would have probably stayed at their level for longer than just a couple of seasons if he had been more consistent.
Yes, we were hurt when he wanted to move across Manchester just because according to him United lacked ambition, but we need to remember that he did stay at the club until this summer, and in his twelve years at Old Trafford he won the Premier League FIVE times, and this summer joined a list of just TWO Englishmen (the other being Michael Carrick) to win all three domestic trophies, the Champions League, Europa League and the FIFA Club World Cup, so there’s a lot of happy memories to remember when thinking of Rooney wearing the United shirt along the years.
He left the club on a free transfer this summer to rejoin his boyhood club Everton after scoring 183 league goals for United, also making him the highest scorer for one club in the Premier League (beating Thierry Henry’s record along the way).
His goal at Goodison Park on Saturday was enough to give Everton a 1-0 against Stoke, and it means that the next time he scores in the league it will be his 200th Premier League goal, where he’ll join Alan Shearer as the only players to hit the double century of goals in the league.
Is he a Manchester United legend? Some would argue that he’s not because he could have achieved more than he actually did, and also because of the 2010 incident when he was being (mis)led by his shady agent who had his own interests to look after. But although he was never close to being United’s best ever footballer (Cantona, Giggs, Keane, Best, Charlton, Law were better to name but a few), he can definitely be included in the pantheon of legends that we were so lucky to see play for the club we love and support so much.
So, as many will be happy to see the back of him, it’s time to wish him luck at Everton where as he said, ‘once a blue always a blue’ (though he spent the best times of his career wearing United’s red). Meanwhile we turn our support to the new generation of players at Old Trafford like Lukaku, Martial, Rashford, Pogba and the rest… COME ON UNITED!!!