Thursday, July 06, 2017

Wayne Rooney: I'm Coming Home

The reports are now from such respected sources that it has to be taken seriously: Wayne Rooney, for years (though not recently) Manchester United's "talisman," is going back to Everton where it all began. Merseyside born and raised, Rooney was sixteen years old, s-i-x-t-e-e-n, when he debuted for the Everton first team. On October 19, 2002 Rooney scored a last-minute, match-winning goal that broke Arsenal's thirty-match win streak. Arsene Wenger said at the time: "Rooney is the biggest England talent I've seen since I arrived in England. There has certainly not been a player under 20 as good as him since I became a manager here."

So, of course, he ended up at United two years later. He became United's top goal scorer in his first year, 2004-05. In 2009-10 Rooney scored 26 league goals and won the Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year. The 2010-11 season began with the shock that Rooney wanted to leave United. He stayed. On February 12 his bicycle kick in the 78th minute beat God's Righteous Team of Angels in Sky Blue. Of which goal Sir Alex Ferguson said: "It was stunning. Unbelievable. We've had some fantastic goals here but in terms of'll never see that." United won the English Premier League for a 19th time and Rooney's fourth.

But, to my eyes anyway, something changed in that 2010-11 season. Rooney did not look right thereafter. He scored only 11 goals in 2010-11, down from 26 the year before. The next season he scored 27, so yeah, my eyesight is 20/400.  Ferguson benched Rooney for the second match of the 2012-13 season and later that same season announced that Rooney had handed in a transfer request, the second time in three seasons he had asked to leave. He scored 12 goals that year, 17 the next, and then 12, 8, and 5 last year. Rooney seemed, to me, troubled, unhappy, discontented, all them things since 2010-11 and, I surmised, a cancer in the United dressing room. Several times, I have written United should get rid of him.

Now, according to serious, respected reports, United have. Wayne Rooney is coming home to Everton. It will not be a coming home party as was LeBron James' to Cleveland. Rooney will simply fade away.