It has taken him long, but eventually he did it – at 31, Wayne Rooney became the all time record goalscorer for Manchester United, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton. With this achievement, Rooney has etched his name amidst the pantheons of the greats. 250 goals in 546 matches at 175 minutes per goal ratio is no mean feat. And yet with Rooney, there is always a feeling that he could have done more. A lot more.
Rooney left such an indelible impression when he first burst on to the scene that we often tend to undervalue his gradual transformation into a complete forward. We often fail to acknowledge what a tremendous team player he is. Rooney is one player who has always delivered when it mattered most. He is a hero. Maybe, a flawed one.
Here is an excellent infographic tracking all the key stats from Rooney’s goalscoring career courtesy of our friends at Betway: (click to open in full size):
Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United made it a habit of winning late. Old Trafford became the central cathedral of Europe that taught the art of scoring late and snatching victories from the maw of defeat. And most of the time, Rooney featured as the main man to execute the killing job to perfection. He scored 101 goals for United after the 60th minute, of which 55 goals have come in the final 15 minutes. 30 of those have come as winners.
Only once in his career has he scored four goals in a match (against Hull City) while he completed his hat-trick seven times for United. Another highlighting feature of his game is that the majority of his goals (219) have come in a winning cause. The stats will speak for themselves.
Rooney loves to score in big games. He scored 12 times against Arsenal, 9 against Chelsea, and 11 times in the Manchester derby. He scored in League Cup finals in 2006 and 2010, the Club World Cup final in 2008 and also scored in the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2011.
The England skipper probably could have added more goals to his tally had he played as a leading striker throughout his career for United. Ferguson, who signed him from Everton in 2004, felt that Rooney could serve the club in a better way than by being a conventional striker. It is under his tutelage that Rooney became a more accomplished forward. In the process of his transformation, he lost pace and cutting edge, but his overall development took a new height.
In his 13 year stay at the club, only twice has he scored over 30 goals in a season. In 2009, following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, he was deployed as a central striker – Rooney ended up scoring 34 goals for his club. And again, two years later, he played in the same role and scored 34 goals. Rooney enjoyed his best spell from 2009-2013, where he scored 100 goals in just 164 games.
A lot of United fans are divided in opinion about what United should do with Rooney. Mourinho made a strong statement recently, saying he wants his skipper to continue with United as he believes the England striker still has an “important” role to play. On the other hand, any supporter who watches regular United games will notice that Rooney is past his best, and that he is struggling physically to cope with the demands of the league. His last 50 goals have come in 140 games; that shows he is on the wane. Probably the time is right for him to leave the club with dignity.
Rooney has been a great servant for the club. And he should be remembered for his great contribution to United’s success. Thank you, Wazza.
Here is the Wayne Rooney infographic again (click to open in full size):