It’s not yet been confirmed, as we all know, but it’s looking increasingly likely that this weekend’s game between Manchester United and Crystal Palace is going to be the final home game after thirteen years of service for Wayne Rooney, and perhaps his final one in English football. For a player that has become the leading goalscorer for the biggest club in the land, and has also become the record goalscorer for his national team, the fact that there is a doubt as to whether he’ll even be playing on Sunday is a bit of a sad state of affairs. Jose Mourinho played him for 90 minutes against Southampton on Wednesday and has said that because of this, the United captain will probably not be playing at the weekend.
Rooney’s reduced role
Mourinho has mentioned that the player is coming into the final part of his career and that he is no longer a player that can do what he did six or seven years ago, as much as he might want to do so. The inability to impact games has been clear for all to see this year and is the culmination of a decline that has been going for almost four years now. The Portuguese decided pretty early on in the season that this was a player that he couldn’t rely on and so has kept him largely to substitute roles, a move that didn’t meet with much disapproval.
This season will be his worst in terms of goals since 2004 and the pace that he once had to get away from opponents is no longer there. This is a man who has been playing, pretty much full time since 2002, at the highest level, but he does not have a natural athletic physique of someone like Ryan Giggs, that would allow him to play for many more years, nor does he have the best off-field habits known to man, something which would also surely allow him to prolong his career at the top.
The contrast with Cristiano Ronaldo
If you think back to when he first arrived at United, and the side he found himself in alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, it was the Englishman who was going to be the all-time great, the one who had the bigger profile, who scored more goals, who decided more games. It would be inaccurate to say that they’ve gone in opposite directions since then, but the contrast in the situations in which they are in at the moment could not be greater. One is perhaps on his way to the league title, in with an excellent chance of retaining the Champions League, has led his country to international glory last summer and is perhaps on course for a fifth Ballon d’Or trophy, while the other is probably going to be leading his side on a half-hearted end of season lap of honour after finishing in sixth place with the chances of him playing in the final of Europe’s second most important club competition appearing remote.
Rooney’s career has been magnificent and he has given so much pleasure to so many people around the world. He’s won eleven major trophies at the club (the Community Shield isn’t a trophy) and scored 253 goals, so to say that it has been anything but a roaring success is bonkers. However, it seems as though he’s leaving United out of the back door, and even though the time is right for him to be leaving, he deserves a bit more than what it sounds like he is going to be getting.
Does Rooney deserve a proper United send-off? Will he be at Old Trafford next season? Let us know in the comments section below.