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STATS: If only Rooney fulfilled his potential…

It should come as no surprise that Wayne Rooney was on the receiving end of plenty of stick from England fans following Saturday night’s defeat against Italy.

Rooney didn’t have a good game, being shifted around in a variety of different positions, and struggled to provide Leighton Baines with much cover when on the left.

In the second half, Rooney got himself in a good position to score but dragged his shot wide of the post, when at the very least, he should have been hitting the target.

Still, whilst the likes of Gerrard and Henderson were utterly anonymous, and the defence were guilty of amateur defending when failing to close down Marchisio and get anywhere near Balotelli at the back post, Rooney bore the brunt of people’s frustration. In reality, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck are the only players who put in a good shift.

Rooney, like so many players, fails to replicate his club form when playing for his country, particularly during tournaments. Still, in qualifying for the World Cup, Rooney was England’s top scorer with seven goals (one less than Ronaldo/Ibrahimovic, four less than Van Persie/Suarez).

It has become a habit of England to slate Rooney’s all-round ability when he fails to perform for England though. He apparently never became the player he could have been, isn’t world class, and United are foolish to pay him £200k+ a week. Whilst it’s likely Rooney could have become a better player than he did, if he took better care of himself during the summer months, to suggest he hasn’t been a great player for United is insane.

Season after season, whether Rooney is enjoying good form or not, he’s always one of the most effective players in the league, in terms of the goals and assists he provides United.

When you look at his performance in comparison to top players in Premier League history, Rooney stands out as one of the best. This despite him often being played out of position to accommodate the strengths of other players.

Goals and assists update

When looking at his goals, only Alan Shearer (+87), Andy Cole (+14) and Thierry Henry (+2) have more than him.

When looking at assists, only Ryan Giggs (+77), Frank Lampard (+16), Dennis Bergkamp (+9) and Steven Gerrard (+6) have more.

When looking at goals and assists per season, only Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer out perform Rooney. When you consider that Rooney is only 28-years-old, and is only 66 goals/assists from matching Shearer’s record, it’s fairly likely that by the time he retires his totals won’t be matched by anyone.

I’m not Rooney’s biggest fan, if I haven’t made that clear by now, and he has plenty of flaws in his game. If a club from abroad offered to buy him this summer and we had the promise of reinvestment, I wouldn’t be devastated. I also agree with the regularly repeated spiel that if Rooney had worked as hard as Ronaldo did on improving his game he would be up there as one of the very best in the world right now.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Rooney with unfulfilled potential is still one of the best players this league has ever seen, who will more than likely retire with several titles to his name: more goals and assists than any player in Premier League history, England’s all-time top scorer and Manchester United’s all-time top scorer. So he can’t be that bad.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Paschal Agwunobi says:

    Fellaini has more world cup goals than rooney. We shouldn’t sell him. We should keep him as our plan B, when normal passes aren’t working. With him crosses can be very effective.

  2. wayne barker says:

    Gary i don’t know what’s in Van Gaal’s head or what his other teams have been like,just makes no sense getting rid of a player cheap without working with him first,i still think Fellaini can come good has a very difficult year on many levels.Anyway no one is leaving till Utd sign players and Felliani has a very unique skill set that can be made use of in any squad.
    Not going to go back and judge what Giggs did but i think he was part of the problem last year rather than the cure.I heard people on talksport talk about a core of Utd players who simply didn’t give Moyes a chance or give Fellaini any breaks,Giggs gets mentioned a lot.

  3. wayne barker says:

    most players had a off year so if anyone is judging Fellaini on last seasons form for a reason to get rid of him,why not 8 or 9 others?.
    Fellaini was the new kid,signed late had injuries to deal with and had the Moyes tag hanging over him with fans and some players,if any player deserves another season it’s him.Lot’s of players take time to fit in at Utd getting rid after what’s gone on the past year would be wrong imo.

  4. Gary Mitrovic says:

    Wayne, well he wouldn’t be sold on the cheap, but it’s obvious we’d have to take a bit cut if we did sell him.

    You don’t know that about Giggs though mate, it’s clear that he wasn’t convinced by Moyes, but he always gave 100 percent when he did play. He was our best player along with Van Persie against Olympiakos. Giggs is arguably the best professional in the game, I really doubt he would be that unprofessional. He had a team to pick and he said himself it was hard to leave players out.

  5. warrored says:

    It will be interesting to see what LVG does with Fellaini…..I think if he does utilise him in some capacity then he will get an easier ride of the fans. Part of the Fellaini thing was definitely the whole Moyes Woodward summer of discontent…..

    I doubt we’ll sell him until replacements are brought in.

    Who knows LVG might be able to do something with him. We’ve given Anderson a free ride for about 4 years too long. It’d be hilarious if LVG can sort him out.

    Not sure what to make out about Vermaelan. A cheap stop gap maybe.

    The word on the street is Shaw has been saying he’s had the go ahead to join us to anyone who will listen.

    Last thing I’m looking forward to LVG working with Wilson Pearson and Co.

  6. Tommy says:


    I agree on Belgium, I also want to know how the fuck a team who are playing its first tournament in 12 years can possibly be highly ranked enough to make them a seed above the 2006 winners and 2010 runners up, even fucking Enmgland should be seeded before Belgium, on Hernandez yea I was thinking he would be too good for saints, although I wouldnt be shocked to see big names go their now Koeman is manager, I would imagine he would be an attractive manager for players to join. Nor really surprised to see Samuel defend Rooney, who was shocking against Italy, yet Blast Fellani who did well when he came on, some things never change. I also agree with Wayne, If you cross the ball well then he can be an effectoive squad player in this league, the problem is the pathetic crosses last season, Belgium put him on and bang goal, great impact sub, had Wilmots not brought him on I would imagine Algeria would of took the 3 points, that 1 sub changd the game. I was not impressed at all by Brazil and their one tactic which is when they cant break a well organised defence, throw themselves to the ground, utterley rediculous, Marcelo like Fris a disgrace, FIFA should come down hard and ban these 2 for the rest of the tournament, disgraceful behaviour and Scalari on the sidelines moaning about tackles from Mexico, If it wasnt for the refs theyd only have 2 points from the first 2 games. I really dont see Brazil going past the last 16, if they top group and Spain come 2nd, even though Spain lost 5 1 first game, I only se Spain winning that one

  7. wayne barker says:

    Gary mate don’t know what went on just pointing out Fellaini had a lot to deal on top of trying to adapt to a club the size of Utd,imo deserves one more season to settle and prove himself

  8. Tommy says:

    GOOD NEWS. The 2014/15 league fixtures are announced at 9am tomorrow morning. Hopefully van Gaal gets an easier start than Moyes did…

  9. Tommy says:

    Its an exciting Fabio Capello side next to keep me awake

  10. Gary Mitrovic says:

    Tommy, yea really don’t understand how Belgium were fifth favourites ahead of the likes of Holland and Italy. Belgium’s so called golden generation don’t have one real big to their name yet to point to.

    On Italy it makes me laugh how everyone writes them off every tournament. It’s like no one learns their lesson. Every tournament I hear how they’re old and there for the taking. I think they’re the only team who can possibly stop the Germans. Italy seem to have the hex on Germany for what ever reason, though if they did meet I’d prefer the Germans to win.

    Yea attacking lime up from Russia. I stayed up just to hear the national anthem of Russia! That get’s me every time! Though I’ve heard better renditions. Another tough game to call. I’ll go 2-1 Russia.

  11. Mark Reid says:

    @Tommy yea mate Marcelo disgrace the refs have to start booking these Arseholes I usually like Brazil this team not so much.As for David fucking Louise how the fuck is he worth the money he got.Brazil will go far been in their own back yard and all that but so far not impressed.

  12. Marko Maric says:

    I dont understand why english fans put so manny critics on Rooney. He played very well, but he can t do everything. England, played very well, but you can t beat double block against best defence in the world. Italy defending over 100 years!
    Rooney was unlucky that night. When Italy scored they closed themselfs, so not England, but any team wpuld have the same problem against Italy. England need little bit more creativity in the middle. You plqyed less long balls, wich is good, but you dont have security with the ball, coz that is not your stlye, and you cant change that over night. But it was good. Sterling was good, good dribleing skills, but that is what is missing in the middle. England tryied to manny times penetrate trough the middle of the defence, wich was wrong, you needed more balls from the flanks.

  13. OpikBidin says:

    Against olympiakos in the home game, our best players were the CBs and the wingers. Jones, Smalling, Welbeck and Valencia. The CBs agility cover up the CMs who have no legs and can’t help to defend, while the wingers were always chasing the hollywood passes but also rush back to defend. That is why Rooney-RVP are made to look good because with Welbeck and Valencia who have pace, they defence is stretched, and Giggs-carrick can easily send hollywood balls knowing Valencia-Welbeck can chase any ball and win it because they are stronger than the olympiakos fullbacks.

  14. Marko Maric says:

    I m pleased how Croatia and Bosnia played…Croatia misssing what Mexico has, and that is brutal believe in yourself and attack with no fear, like Bosnia

  15. Tommy says:

    Im glad I stayed up watching that enthalling game, Russia used to be a free flowing side a couple of years ago and then Capello took over, Russia are about as exciting to watch as Capello is when he speeks (or tries to speak English). No ones mentioned Thiago Silvas leg breaking tackle on Hernandez a clear red card, which im 100% certain if a Mexico player would have done that on Neymar, it would of been a straight red, no doubt about it

  16. Tommy says: – Lets hope this is true and Woodward dosent cave in and take the money, but I am getting the impression that theirs fuck all funds to spend like Gary mentioned the other day and thats why we are chasing cheap options like Vermaelen. £200million is all pie in the sky from Woodward, hes a fucking liar, ill be surprised if theirs big money spent this season, so frustrating.

    On another topic, how good was that Mexican keeper? Hes available on a free, I reckon they will be loads of interest in him after the world cup, maybe even a few English clubs may be in for him, he wont be a free agent for long

  17. Tommy says:

    hahaha just heard Maureen have a pop at Pepe (Brazilian) for getting sent off in the manner he did for Portugal by saying “He should have more respect, hes not even Portugese” I get the impression they never got along at Real Madrid

  18. Mark Reid says:

    I agree 200 million me bollix.If we spend more than 50 I’ll be shocked.Come on Woodword u said it put your money where your mouth is.Or are you full of shit?

  19. Jackie Spain says:

    @Tommy: First 6 fixtures are: Swansea, Sunderland, Burnley, QPR, Leicester, WHU – we should be top after that!

  20. Tommy says:


    Yea ive seen, we should be on 18 points after those first 6 theirs no doubt abouit it, its a chance to put down a marker

  21. Mark Reid says:

    Not complaining at all about that start.Should be fairly safe,if the teams improved.


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