Time for Rooney to go?
The Manchester United and England striker turns 31 at the end of October, and that age wouldn’t necessarily suggest any decline in form, but Wayne Mark Rooney has many more footballing miles on his clock than most professional players of similar years.
Age no barrier
Some players find their very best form after reaching thirty-plus, two notables include former United striker Teddy Sheringham, who at 33, equalised for the Reds in their miraculous Champions League comeback win over Bayern Munich back in 1999 and also gained recognition for his fine veteran performances by winning the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year in 2001.
Rooney’s current team mate, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who turns 35 in early October, has stepped into the breach of United’s attack without any signs of age becoming any issue for the Swedish hitman, unlike his struggling strike partner.
A key difference between the two previously mentioned is that Rooney was a teenage prodigy. As an unassuming 16 year-old, Rooney burst onto the Premier League scene in an Everton shirt with an incredible goal that left (at the time) Arsenal and England goalkeeper, David Seaman utterly bamboozled.
Less than four months later, Rooney made his England debut, and the star was emerging as one of the most promising players in world football. He has since gone on to become England’s greatest goalscorer, and is only a quartet of goals from overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s tally of 249 in United colours.
So why would new United boss, Jose Mourinho look to offload his club captain? Several reasons, and in particular, his laboured style is stunting United’s expected title challenge and their progress as an attacking force. Rooney was recently left out in a 4-1 home victory over reigning Premier League champions, Leicester City – and United looked a far better side in his absence. Gone was the slow build-up play United followers have been accustomed, in place of speed and direct running from Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard that Rooney simply cannot provide any more.
Mourinho has suggested that Rooney will only ‘play as a striker or number 10’ in his side, but with excellent performances also from Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata in a United shirt against the Foxes, it could be some time before the former Everton man is seen again as a starter for the Red Devils in the Premier League.
Rooney’s rapid decline could also be seen as an opportunity for the United hierarchy to call time on the 30 year-old’s United career. Draining the club’s finances on an astronomical contract, Rooney simply isn’t worth the outlay from a financial aspect due to his lack of production on the pitch, and with Paul Pogba arriving back from Juventus in the recent transfer window for a world record fee, the powerbrokers at Old Trafford must surely be looking at reinvesting such a huge financial outlay of Rooney’s on new players who are far more capable of justifying the lofty monetary gains.
On two separate occasions throughout his United career, Rooney has held the club to ransom by flirting with other sides to gain a better deal with his current employers – that option is no longer available to the striker due to his ineffectiveness in recent months.
So where would Rooney go? A move back to former club Everton or Celtic could appeal to the striker as childhood followers of both clubs, but the real opportunity for Rooney surely must lie in the MLS. For a player who is coming to the swansong of an illustrious and highly successful and decorated career, Major League Soccer would surely be a huge pull for him and his young family. David Beckham’s plans to bring a franchise to Miami are expected to be concluded in time for 2018 so the question is, can Rooney stick around at Old Trafford long enough for Beckham to come calling?