The demise of Manchester United and England Captain Wayne Rooney has been a hot topic since the start of the domestic season, and with him yet to pick up any sort of form we have to ask ourselves: is this the beginning of the end of Rooney’s career?
The 30 year-old striker has been a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford since he signed as a young prospect in August 2004. Having already made his mark on the Premier League with Everton, an 18 year-old Rooney had a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders with Man United, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. However, 12 years and 246 club goals later, we see a player who is a shadow of his former self. Naturally, we can expect to see any athlete deteriorate physically once they reach a certain age, but Rooney seems to have lost half a yard mentally which is proving something of a cause for concern at club and international level.
Having adopted a deeper, midfield role for England, we should expect to see Wayne doing a Paul Scholes; dictating the tempo of play whilst the more energetic players can do the running in the engine room. However, the Rooney of late has been uncharacteristically sloppy in possession and does not look on the same wavelength as his teammates, particularly at United. He appears as if he’s struggling to keep up with the intricacy of the likes of Mata and Rashford; the latter’s rise may have contributed to Wayne Rooney’s torrid season with Rooney getting less game time in favour of the youngster.
Despite this season’s woes, it shouldn’t be forgotten just what the striker has done for club and country over the last 12 years. Whenever it is he decides to hang up his boots he will do so as Manchester United and England’s highest scorer ever, an impressive feat considering many people argue that he ‘never reached his true potential’. Needing only 3 more goals to equal the Man United goal scoring record held by Sir Bobby Charlton (and in some 200 fewer matches), Wayne will be looking to do so by Christmas, sparking celebrations around Old Trafford for a modern United legend.
As a 30 year-old, one would expect another 2 or 3 years out of the veteran striker, but given that Rooney began playing at the highest level at only 16, he has played as much football as any given 35 year-old player and we can’t be surprised that his career is fading match by match.
Wayne deserves to be regarded as a hero for his club and country, though it is clear for all to see that his place in both the Man United and England line-ups is less of a formality, and consistently poor performances are keeping more deserving players out of the teams. Given his age and lengthy career it is far from shocking that he is on a decline, but the one final goal in sight for the striker must be Manchester United’s all-time top scorer record, this potentially being set up perfectly for the forthcoming Europa League fixtures against Fenerbahce; the same team he made his red devils debut against all those years ago.