The storm around Wayne Rooney’s benching for England and his shiny new role as a fixture on the Manchester United bench as seemingly died down for now. Ever early to get to a story The Man Times looks at what the future holds for the England and Manchester United captain.
His benching shouldn’t have been as controversial as it was, his form has been disappointing, particularly by his own high standards and it really irks me when football abandons its position as a meritocracy for the sake of a single player with a big reputation. If you’re in a rut you don’t get picked, it shouldn’t be any more than that.
Rooney turns 31 today (24th October) and while that’s the wrong side of 30 for a professional athlete you’d imagine there’d be plenty of football left in those legs. The human body is a funny thing, everybody’s is different and needs maintaining in specific ways. Say what you want but it’s widely acknowledged that certainly in his early career that Rooney’s approach to maintaining himself wasn’t exactly 1st rate. Combine that with the numbers and it becomes clear quite quickly how the physical aspects of football could have taken their toll and why his form may have dipped to the point it may never return.
Rooney has played (at time of writing) 728 career games in the league, cups and Europe for club and for country in a career that has seen him playing regular first team football since he was 16 over the last 14 seasons. Despite only being 31 that is an incredible amount of football miles on the clock for any player. That’s more than both Gary and Phil Neville and would make up nearly 2 entire careers for Jermaine Jenas. He already has an entire (very successful) careers worth of football under his belt and it’s far from over yet.
If Rooney wishes to remain relevant for Manchester United and England he should be on the phone to Ryan Giggs asking where the fountain of youth is that saw him play so many games. Gone is the turn of pace and the bustling style and that has been replaced with someone who’s trying to take advantage with the ball at his feet. Mentally his game has always had downsides, situationally he has always had problems when he isn’t seeing the ball very often drifting down the field to see the ball removing himself as an outlet. By moving him backwards into the midfield it was presumably hoped that he would use the same vision and energy that young Rooney would have when he would drop back to get himself involved.
Sadly the energy has gone. At least with young Rooney you’d bet your house on him busting a guy to win the ball back when he lost it, maybe picking up a booking on the way. The agility to smash overhead kicks into the top corner a thing of the past and the pace gone. Future relevance for Rooney is dependent on the successful reinvention of himself and his playing style, Rooney the midfielder gets in the way. Not having a great amount of experience at the position this could be understandable but there’s enough experience there to know what’s required of him. It’s easy to say and harder to do but he’s got to move the ball quicker and himself with it. If he’s being asked to set the tempo it should be obvious to him that the tempo at United and for England needs to be quicker and it’s apparent that it’s not something he’s currently able to deliver. Both United and England look much better and more dynamic without him in the team so future relevance for him means literally getting up to speed.
It’s Wayne Rooney’s 31st birthday on the day this article is published and many happy returns to him. Given what was just written I should probably get him a card or something, then again on £300k per week he doesn’t need to give a flying rats penis about us or anything we have to say.
Happy Birthday Wayne!