The bugles are blowing louder than ever on Wayne Rooney’s United career. It’s time, and he probably knows it more than anyone. It won’t be a surprise if during January’s transfer window he left for the U.S. or China. The fact that tomorrow he’ll be on the bench for England against Slovenia in the World Cup qualifying game is as plain a signal as you can get. He’s a sub at international and club level. He can still summon a surge, ask the Crystal Palace fans after his guts and determination run set up the equalizer in the Cup Final. But these days those runs are a cameo. The game has taken it’s toll. Midfield is not his natural position, it never will be. He looks for Hollywood passes when much of the the game is played in 3-5 yard areas. And in those areas the ball too often slips away. The darting Iniesta role doesn’t suit him.
Now it’s time for the fans to pay him the respect he deserves. Twelve seasons of unforgettable moments, success, courage and skill at United. All the time while being kicked and battered for the cause and playing in the hardest role of all.
Statistics tell his story and reflect his contribution.
- Joined Manchester United for £25.6 million from Everton in the 2004 summer transfer window.
- With Rooney in the team, United won the Premier League five times, the UEFA Champions League once, the FIFA Club World Cup once, the FA Community Shield four times, the Football League Cup twice and the FA Cup once.
- In September 2013, Rooney scored his 200th goal for Manchester United. He is currently on 246 goals, making him the club’s second top goalscorer of all time behind Bobby Charlton’s 249.
- His 194 Premier League goals make him the competition’s second top scorer of all time to Alan Shearer’s 260, and he holds the record for most goals for one club in the Premier League, with 179.
- Rooney made his senior international debut in February 2003 aged 17, becoming the youngest player to represent England (a record since broken by Theo Walcott) and he is England’s youngest ever goalscorer. He played at UEFA Euro 2004 and scored four goals, briefly becoming the youngest goalscorer in the history of the European Championship.
- Rooney has since featured at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He has won the England Player of the Year award four times, in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2015. With 53 goals in 115 international caps, Rooney is England’s all-time record goalscorer and second most-capped player.
- In 2009–10, Rooney was awarded the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year. He has won the Premier League Player of the Month award five times, a record only bettered by Steven Gerrard. He came fifth in the vote for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or and was named in the FIFPro World 11 for 2011.
- Rooney has won the Goal of the Season award by the BBC‘s Match of the Day poll on three occasions, with his bicycle kick against City winning the Premier League Goal of the 20 Seasons award.
You cannot argue with, diminish or demean those statistics and what they represent. It’s insulting when some fans do. Plain and simple he’s run out of gas. In many other Premiere League teams he’d still be a major force, but United are striving to win the Championship again and there are bigger, quicker, more dynamic, more mobile options available. The body eventually wears out, and Rooney’s has. It happens to every player.
Where does he sit in United’s list of greats? Post war in no particular order we’ve had Edwards, Byrne, Best, Law, Charlton, Robson, Schmeichel, Keane, Cantona, Irwin, Stam, Ferdinand, Vidic, Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, and Ronaldo. Rooney is in that list. Has to be. At his peak he was a devastating force and easily Britain’s best player.
As noted above he’s scored 246 goals for the club. Three behind Bobby Charlton’s club record of 249. Will he break it? I hope so. United can’t afford to try and carry him to the record, but there are plenty of Cup games coming up.
It’s a milestone and personal triumph he deserves. At the highest level his brilliant, bruising career is over.