The Wayne Rooney ShowDalton Harris
One of the most talked about players at the moment is Wayne Rooney, and for good reason too. He’s been at the centre of a national debate about whether he should be club and country captain and the first name on the team sheet.
Long before the Euro’s this summer, it’s been hotly contested as to whether Wayne Rooney is the player he once was or whether he should be dropped to make way the new breed of talent that he was as a 16 year old boy.
I have been saying this for a couple of years now, Rooney has been playing at such an intensity since the age of 16 years old for Everton, Man United and England. That’s almost 15 years of tireless football with relatively few breaks, scattered by the odd injury. It’s quite normal that he’s suffered from overplay and has burnt out. He’s played 724 professional games by age 31. That’s almost as many career appearances as Paul Scholes (656 appearances) and David Beckham (638) and they played until they were 38 years old. If he carries on, by age 32 he would have almost matched them, within a few appearances.
If you look at another child prodigy and one of my favourite players, Michael Owen – one of the most naturally talented goal scorers but retired at 32. He’s games to age ratio was just astounding at such a young age, much similar to Wayne Rooney. However, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, legends by any standard were managed cautiously early in their career and were able to play nearly 7 years longer than Michael Owen. The same could be happening to Rooney.
I still think he is one of the most technically gifted players that England has, his range of passing, first touch and amongst other things, his football brain is brilliant. But I do think that Rooney has outlived his name. He’s not the exciting player that we thought he would be during Euro 2004. He doesn’t run at people, shoot from distance and get in the faces of the opposition to ruffle their feathers anymore.
He’s a far mellower player now, who would rather become a provider of assists with the occasional goal instead of the outright goal scorer with the occasional assist. He’s a good player, a great player even at times and has had some memorable moments in the game, but I think it’s either time for him to become a bit-part player much the same as the way Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes was used in their latter career days. If he doesn’t want to do that, then maybe another option would be to move clubs to somewhere we would get regular playing time. Plenty of clubs would want him, he has a wealth of experience.
Gary Neville, the straight talking pundit and former teammate of Rooney has said that ‘dropping him is inevitable. He’s entering a period in his career where his game time needs to be managed’ which would allow the future likes of Rashford to excel.
He’s been the centre stage at the theatre of dreams for over 10 years, but now I feel his rein is coming to an end. Pogba, Mata, Rashford and Ibrahimovic and co. have all proven they’re good players and bring a higher tempo to the game, which is something Man United will need if they want to challenge for the title this season.
My advice, Rooney step down as captain for club and country and be willing to be a bit-part player and please don’t outstay your welcome.