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Wayne Rooney: Unfulfilled talent and past his best?

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When 16 year old Wayne Rooney scored THAT goal against Arsenal in 2002, he was being lauded as the most exciting young player on the planet. He was going to be the man who would win England the World Cup, be the best player in the world and be the finest footballer ever to represent his country.

rooney Wayne Rooney: Unfulfilled talent and past his best?

Just over a decade later, though, and Rooney has not lived up to these expectations and, in the eyes of many lately, is arguably past his peak.

At 27, Wayne Rooney should be in his absolute prime, but he seems to have lost a slight edge to his game these days. The genius that he once possessed and produced on a regular basis has now been replaced by a ruthless efficiency on the pitch.

When in the past he would’ve attempted to run at and beat three defenders he now looks happier playing the easy ball.

He used to be at the top of many people’s lists when it came to players you would pay to see play in the Premier League, but he is nowhere near as exciting, or effective, as players like Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale now.

It is important you realise this does not mean Rooney is not still a terrific footballer. He remains one of the best players in the Premier League and one of England’s key men on his day.

My point is that, considering how special he once looked, he should be THE best player in the league and one of the top five in the world. The harsh reality is that there are many players out there better than Rooney currently.

RVP Rooney e1361799486758 Wayne Rooney: Unfulfilled talent and past his best?

At Old Trafford, Rooney is very much playing second fiddle to Van Persie, who has won United many games this season. Although Rooney has a likeable hunger for the game and an excellent team ethic, he also has a sizeable ego and it will hurt to see someone else be the key man at the club rather than himself.

A perfect way to look at how Rooney’s career has failed to reach quite the level many predicted is looking at the progress of Cristiano Ronaldo. Nine months apart in age, there was a time in the mid 2000s when Rooney was rated higher than the Portuguese superstar.

Since then, Ronaldo has become one of the greatest players to have played the game, while Rooney has never really threatened greatness. Again it must be reiterated that it’s being extra harsh because of what we all expected from Rooney.

As mentioned earlier, this is not to say Rooney has not been, and still is, a superb player. He will go on to win well over 100 caps for England and will break both of Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring records for England and Manchester United. For most players that would represent a pretty special career, but not with Rooney.

The great players do consistently great things in big games, and Rooney’s displays in major finals have been disappointing. Apart from the goal against Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League final he has offered little else in matches he has been billed as the star in.

The famous bicycle kick against Manchester City aside, which was an incredible goal, what has Rooney done in the last two years to get you off the edge of your seat?

Rooney Bicycle Kick Wayne Rooney: Unfulfilled talent and past his best?

I know there will be heaps of United fans leaping to Rooney’s defence, saying what an underrated team player he is, and how he has sacrificed his genius for the good of the side, but that is an easy way out. He should be able to do both.

In terms of his peak, personally I think Rooney hit it in 2010. He scored 34 goals that season and was sensational throughout. His displays helped win the Carling Cup and were just a single point short of Chelsea on the Premier League table.

Interestingly, this was at a time between Ronaldo leaving and Van Persie arriving, which perhaps suggests Rooney revelled in the role as main man at Old Trafford.

Another negative in Rooney’s career have been his displays for England. He has scored 33 goals in 79 caps to date, which is solid but unspectacular, and his performances in major tournaments have been awful.

Rooney Red Wayne Rooney: Unfulfilled talent and past his best?

Apart from Euro 2004, when he burst onto the scene as an 18 year old, he has offered very little. In 2006, he was forgettable and ending up getting sent off in a crucial game; in 2010, he looked like a pub player and at last year’s Euro’s he missed the first two games through suspension and did very little when he did play, barring a header from a yard out against Ukraine.

Saying Wayne Rooney is past his best is certainly not saying he is finished. Of course, he still has lots to offer, and he will remain an important player at Old Trafford for many years.

For all I know he could be about to hit his peak over the next a couple of years and his recent decline could be down to form. I don’t get that impression at the moment though.

Like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, he is someone who loves nothing more than having the ball at his feet, and he could potentially still play for another decade. The key point is, when he eventually hangs up his boots will he have reached the heights that his many admirers predicted on that memorable day back in 2002.

I’m not so sure.


Follow me on twitter: @henryjackson87. Go to www.OnFootball.co.uk to read more of my work.

Comments (12)

  1. Rooney is one of those players with a very high best, but also a quite low level as well when being off form.

    This season he’s been utilized as a midfielder more than once and defensive duties has been layed upon him. How many forwards today can do what Rooney does? He played left back for United vs Barca a couple of years ago in the semis.

    Also, this season he’s been a bit unlucky with injuries and sickness.

    One of Rooney’s gifts is he’s versatile. That’s also negative for him as he can suddenly be deployed somewhere else on the pitch, as he does a great work wherever he plays.

    He’s definitely one of the best forwards in Premier League and when utilized as a forward he’s also a world class forward.

  2. I agree. I rate him very highly, which I think some people won’t understand reading this. I just think he hasn’t Been as good as he threatened to be. Too inconsistent. Will score 12 in 12 then won’t score in 10 games.

  3. Rooney is an example of what traditionally happens to a skillful footballers in the Premier League – their individuality is drummed out of them on the basis that not giving the ball away is more important that creativity or flair.
    Who gives the ball away THE MOST in spanish football? You’ve got it, Lionel Messi. That statistic doesn’t seem to harm his career does it?
    Yet when English players have the temerity to attempt a piece of skill (which needs hours and hours of practice whatever anyone says), they are roundly criticised for not playing the “team game”. This is most obviously higlighted in international football when time on the ball, patience and no little skill is needed to open more tightly locked defences.
    England’s answer? Where’s Peter Crouch? Where’s Andy Carroll? Hoof the long ball!!!

    Come on British coaches! Stop hamstringing our skillful talent in a changed game instead of applying Howard Wilkinson’s age-old FA-adopted policy of launching long-balls to a target man and then don’t see the ball for 10 minutes when the move falls apart.

    Whatever plaudits Sir Alex Ferguson wins, and justifiably so, he had very few players develop their techincal game under his stewardship, and Wayne Rooney, whilst having a plethora of medals in a league where titles are purchased by whomever is richest, has sacrificed his technical improvement.

    You have to have courage to allow your players to take risks, hence why so few British players even try. The issue isn’t Wayne Rooney, his just isn’t the “British Way”.

    World-class Rooney? He could have been. At this stage of his career, I’m afraid not. Not

  4. Couldn’t agree more Ross. Spot on on everything. Look at joe cole, unbelievable talent sucked out of him at Chelsea to become another efficient player in Mourinho’s side.

  5. Erm, United didn’t win the title the year Rooney got 34.

  6. Have to agree with Martin that Rooney on his day is unplayable and definitely world class. When he has an off day he can often be dreadful. To say he’s unfulfilled is an insult to his talent. When you look at what he brings to the team, he’s played centre forward, just behind a striker, off the left, centre midfield and produces performances and work rate far above anyone else on the pitch.
    Look at last season, he shouldered the clubs goal scoring responsibilities and came away with 27 league goals in 34 games. This season with RVP, Rooney has been moved around a lot more and has turned to more of a provider than taker of chances. He’s done that without complaint which is a talent in its own right.
    I think winning 4 league titles, 2 League Cups, 3 Charity Shields, 1 World Club Cup and 1 Champions league is a pretty fair trophy haul for a guy still only 27.

  7. Of course it’s impressive, never denied that. Just saying when he was expected to be the best player in the world etc he hasn’t reached those heights. The Real Madrid vs Utd first leg summed him up as a player now: worked hard, did nothing wrong but one of the least noticed players on the pitch.

  8. Rooney is the best utd player. he can play anywhere without complaining.

  9. You’re right bob. My bad.

  10. why are all the writers writing about how rooney is overrated and past his best? he is a top ten player in the world. maybe top 5. he has adapted to a midfield role without complaint this year and has like 12 or 13 assists? Rooney can play any forward and midfield position. he also can play defense and put in a good shift, something Ronaldo and messi don’t do.also players like giggs and beckham may not have been as good in their primes as messi is now so why should rooney be held to such a ridiculous standard? and lastly I would say rooney is our most important player because of his heart determination versatile skills and we look a lot better with him on the pitch. we are better with just rooney playing up top then with just van persie.

  11. I think Rooney has been a bit overhyped since he happens to be a talented English footballer, but I agree that he isn’t as good as 2010 or 2011.

    From 2011 he recovered from bad form but never became a great attacker. After last year it seems Fergie has lost faith in his ability to lead a frontline, and RVP’s signing really is proof of his relegation from the frontline to the midfiled. I don’t believe his decline can be blamed on the English ideology, but it may have to do with him being at United.

    If he was a star of a midtable club like Everton the manager would have just had patience and allowed Rooney to play as striker, giving him more time to potentially recover his consistent attacking skills.

    However, even now Rooney does come up in big matches. He scores and provides assists in the derbies , againt Chelsea, etc.

  12. I’m sorry but this player has only been lauded by EPL followers. True neutrals of the game will recognise the high amount of talent which Rooney has got, but his inconsistency causes him not to be in the world-class section of players.

    Let’s be honest here, he is only regarded as a world class player by EPL followers and Man Utd fans.