"Rooney, instant control, fancies his chances... aaaaaaaah BRILLIANT GOAL! BRILLIANT GOAL! Remember the name…Wayne Rooney. It’s Premiership history, the big leagues youngest ever goalscorer signals his arrival on the big stage with a breathtaking goal!"
It was five days prior to his 17th Birthday when Wayne Rooney arrived onto the scene. The goal was stupendous; the moment so timely; no-one could have asked for a better way to announce themselves as the greatest prospect England had ever seen. His thirty yard effort curled into the top corner, ricocheting off the crossbar; it had also ended Arsenal’s 30 match unbeaten run. What an introduction.
It didn't take long for his talents to be recognized and in 2004 he moved to Manchester United for £ 27 million, he was always destined to achieve great things. He was at the greatest club in the world alongside the finest manager in the game. In this time he has more than lived up to his price tag and has also been part of some great moments, with one of the greatest being the overhead kick against Manchester City, one of the best goals I have ever seen.
However…has Rooney lived up to his potential or is he just an overrated talent who we have clutched onto as England continually fail to produce the worlds top players.
So, yes this is a controversial topic and many many people will no doubt disagree However, all I'm doing is looking at whether Rooney has lived up to people’s expectation. If you do or don't agree then we would love to know what you think.
So, let’s look at what the stats tell us:
Club Season Appearances Goals
Everton 2002-03 37 8
2003-04 38 9
TOTAL 77 17
Man Utd 2004-05 43 17
2005-06 48 19
2006-07 55 23
2007-08 43 18
2008-09 49 20
2009-10 44 34
2010-2011 40 16
2011-2012 44 34
2012-2013 7 2
TOTAL 448 200
So what do they tell us? Well, he scores a goal every 2.23 games, with his most successful seasons coming in 09-10 and 11-12. Surprised he’s only past the 30 mark twice? He is at one of the top clubs in the world and with the reputation that he has, does he even come close to being the player that many people believe him to be?
Now…compare these stats to two other English strikers who do not have the same reputation as the 26 year old. Also, take into consideration that both of these players have never played in a ‘Top 4’ team in their careers.
Darren Bent: 176 goals in 411 games
Jermain Defoe: 199 goals in 479 games
So is Rooney playing up to his full potential? Have we seen the best of him? Is he really that good? Let's also compare him to his European counterparts:
Some of Europe’s leading talents:
Mario Gomez: 201 goals in 341 games
Cristiano Ronaldo: 283 goals in 478 games
Lionel Messi: 265 goals in 340 games
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: 253 goals in 385 games
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 244 in 498 games
Yes you can argue, these players play in different leagues, and Rooney brings more than those players; he affects more of the pitch. However when you play as a forward you are expected to score goals, and for me, Rooney hasn't proved that he can do it consistently enough to be labelled as ‘The English Pele’
More recently at England’s training camp, coach and former teammate Gary Neville said when talking about how the striker needs to change his game if he is to continue playing at such a level. “At the age of 26 you always have to think that there’s more to come. He has great examples of players who have contributed to do that in Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, how they have adapted their games.”
Every year Rooney says that his aim is to get more goals from inside the box. Why? Because that’s what strikers do best. Look at Ruud Van Nistelrooy; he was known as a player that hung around on the last defender and on retrieving the ball would glide past defenders with a real elegance before (more often than not) slotting the ball home.
In terms of his international career Wayne Rooney is regarded as the key ingredient to any success England may have. You only have to look at the dependence that Fabio Capello placed on him by selecting him for Euro 2012 when he was banned for the first 3 games. For his country he has scored 31 goals in 77 appearances. Not a bad record at all. However, is this because of the responsibility they put on him to score, with there being no other focal point to the attack. I think Wayne has been fortunate on the international scene, as he has been in front of one of the best midfields in the world; all you need is for them to roll the ball to you. Place any half decent forward in that role and they will reap the rewards.
Also, is he England's role model and captain for the foreseeable future? The 26 year old has been the subject of a number of outbursts over the years, most notably being his outburst to the cameras and the previous World Cup. Some would argue that his maturity is for everyone to see and has only received one booking for his club in his previous 43 games.
Surely Neville has hit the nail on the head and Rooney has to adapt his game in accordance to his greatest attributes. Rooney has shown that he is more suited to a role in midfield spreading the ball around in a Steven Gerrard like manner. The attributes that he possess are not that of a striker who could score in any team. Place someone in the mould of Jermain Defoe in that role and no doubt they will score more than the Liverpudlian. Rooney possess' many skills, his vision is superb, his long passing is also very good, as well as his ability to dictate the tempo of the game. He definitely has all the characteristics of a top top player but when you compare him to other talented players around the world, does he really stand out?