It is clear that Rooney isn’t the same play that burst onto the scene as a teenager at Everton. He has lost that explosive pace and eye for the spectacular that we associated with him. However, over the years, he has matured into a more cultured footballer and added more to his game.
After impressing for two seasons at Everton, 18 year old Wayne Rooney handed in a transfer request. The Toffee’s rejected a £20 million bid from Newcastle, but when United bid £25.6 million, they couldn’t refuse. Rooney signed on 31st August 2004.
After his scintillating performance for England at the Euro’s that summer, the question of whether a move to one of Europe’s elite clubs would phase the teenager. Any questions were immediately answered when he scored a hattrick in the Champions League on his debut against Fenerbache. He continued to develop as a player in his first season at United, scoring 11 goals in 29 league games.
As the seasons past, United’s reliance on Rooney increased. He had to wait until 2007 to win his first league title. His goal scoring partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo helped United to the first of three premier league titles in a row, the clubs first since 2003. In the next two seasons Rooney would be more of a supporting act to his Portuguese teammate. Ronaldo was deployed more as a striker while Rooney’s hard work and versatility rewarded him with a spot out wide. His goal production may have decreased, but he his importance was clear
In 2008, with a front three of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez, United managed to recapture the Europe’s top prize, beating Chelsea on penalties in Moscow. This would be Rooney’s only Champions League triumph, he would go on to lose to Barcelona in the final twice in the next three years.
Ronaldo would leave to go to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, once again allowing Rooney to be the focal point of United’s attack. The 2009/10 season was an incredible season for him, scoring 26 goals in the league and 34 in all competitions. After a drop of in productivity the season after, he posted virtually identical numbers in 2011/12. 27 league goals saw him miss out on the golden boot again, this time to Robin Van Persie. This would end up being Rooney’s last ‘world class’ season.
In seasons after this Rooney was a shadow of himself at United. He was never able to recapture that form and changes in management and position made sure of that. Regardless of some of his recent performances over the last few seasons, it cannot be disputed how good a player he was and has been. Wayne Rooney is an icon and deserves more respect than he is given.