The meteoric rise of Wayne Rooney is one of a fairy tale for many young footballers. From his early days as a teenager at Everton when he burst onto the scene to the big time at Manchester United where he won many Premier League titles, Champions League crown, League Cups, and many other personal accolades one has to say Rooney has had a fulfilled career.
As a teenager he played for Everton before United came calling. There was a bit of resistance from Everton to selling their most prized young talent but when a team like United come calling very few can resist for long. The then manger, David Moyes had a bit of bad blood with the youngster as result of this and their relationship from then onwards would never be the same.
So Rooney got his move and arrived at United at a then record fee for a young player. And he didn’t disappoint. One very big moment came when he scored a hat trick on his Champion’s league debut against Fernebache- the Old Trafford faithful had found their new hero and a star had been born. The only way now for Rooney was up and it looked like nothing was going to stop this young man.
On the international level, England had found their missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle since the time of Michael Owen. Rooney would now be leading the line for the Three Lions and their best chance to win a major title had been increased with him in the team.
But in the build up to the 2006 World Cup, Rooney faced a race to fitness following an injury in the Premier League in April that year. He made it to the tournament playing in the third group game but he never got to his best form in the tournament and ended it with no goals as England exited the tournament, again on penalties.
However on the club level he was at devastating best and his partnership with then club teammate Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the deadliest in England. They tore apart defenses at will and helped United win many more titles under Sir Alex. “Wazza” as he was affectionately called was in great form; He was in the brightest shade of his life. Dare I say the brightest shade of his career?
Following the departure of his partner in crime Ronaldo to Real Madrid, someone had to step up to the plate and as they say, “Cometh the hour, Cometh the man”. He ended that season with his best goal tally, scoring 34 goals in 44 games in all competitions. He missed out on the golden boot and Premier League title that season but it was a personal milestone for him.
As with any player in the modern game Rooney was involved in a transfer saga in 2010. He was heavily linked with many big clubs and was reported to have handed in a transfer request on several occasions. But United and then manager, Sir Alex fought for their man and keep him they did, for the time being at least. As Ferguson retired and his successor Moyes took over, another interest from rivals Chelsea surfaced but yet again he was retained with a bumper new contract that would make him one of the best payed players in the land.
After an abysmal first season under Moyes which left United 7th in the league, Van Gaal was appointed and he named Rooney team captain. He was now the main man and leader of the new era United team.
But his performances began to decline, the striking instincts of Rooney started to wane and he started to look like a shadow of his former himself. He was mostly deployed in midfield in the 2014-2015 season with many fans calling for him to be playing as the main man in attack.
“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it”. Fans got their wish and at the beginning of the 2015-2016 season Van Gaal announced that Rooney would be the main striker for the season playing through the middle as the main number 9.
10 games into the season and we are yet to see any performance from Rooney that suggests he can lead the line for United. He has been lethargic, slow, and nothing like the Wayne Rooney we have come to know over the years. This is the darker shade of Rooney, the shade not so bright and unrecognizable for a player who showed so much promise. One would say Rooney has already peaked and I wouldn’t disagree with them. There are many players who have peaked too early over the years and never got back to their best form: Ronaldinho, Shevchenko, Ronaldo (The Brazilian one), are among a few of many.
The latest showing of Rooney’s decline came in the recent Manchester derby where the least said about his contribution (if any) in that match, the better. He was a complete passenger and offered nothing of an attacking threat whatsoever.
It is so sad to see a promising young talent go down in such a manner after exhibiting so much potential earlier on in his career. I feel sorry for him.
So what is the way forward now for Rooney? I want to believe that he will suddenly rediscover his form but with each passing game that hope keeps looking rather stupid. He needs some time off from the team because it has now gotten to a point where his bad darker shade is starting to cast a heavy shadow on the rest of his teammates who in my opinion, are doing their utmost best only to be let down by their captain and leader.
But for now that does not look like happening anytime as the manager said earlier on this season that he does not mind Rooney’s lack of goals as long as the team wins. I hope his vote of confidence has an impact and motivates Rooney to perform at top form again because if it doesn’t, it will be like someone who has necrosis on his foot and allowing it to spread to other tissues of his upper limbs when cutting off just that foot would have saved his life.