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.
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.