Rooney returns to Old Trafford a true United great
As Wayne Rooney returns to Manchester United for the first time since his summer move to Everton, he does so as a true club legend, writes David Ronney
After 557 games, 253 goals and a club career that would put him up in the history books with some of the Premier League greats, Wayne Rooney packed his bags and headed back to his boyhood club. Leaving a legacy behind him at Old Trafford, he now returns with Everton with the job of dealing Manchester United’s first defeat of the season.
Many of the current United squad have spoken about Rooney leading up to this fixture, with players like Juan Mata saying it will be “weird” facing off against his former captain. However, what will the experience be like for Rooney himself?
Many former United fan favourites have returned to Manchester over the years; Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin Van Persie and David Beckham to name a few. All of which have been given warm receptions so it could be expected than the former England captain would be treated no differently.
Over the past few seasons, the 31-year-old has struggled to remain consistent and to hold a playing position. Working with four different managers since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, each coach has struggled to decide where to play the number 10 or to even play him at all, having spent a lot of last season on Jose Mourinho’s bench. Despite this, last campaign saw Rooney become Manchester United’s all-time top goal scorer, a record previously held by Sir Bobby Charlton and won three trophies. Most notably the Europa League as it completed both the player’s and club’s list of every possible trophy that can be won at that level.
While some people claim he never reached his true potential during his 13-year spell in Manchester, others say he should sculptured outside the ground amongst the fellow club greats. Rooney has cemented himself in United’s history books and holds the honours to prove it so it wouldn’t be surprising if the latter came to a reality in the next decade.
It can be said he left the club on a high but his own playing ability has risen since his move to Everton, having scored in The Toffees’ first two league games against Stoke and his old rivals, Manchester City. If he can take the level of these performances into the United match, then it gives them a fighting chance to get a result against this year’s title favourites. However, Rooney’s goals are the only scored by Everton in the league this season with former Belgian striker, Romelu Lukaku scoring double his tally so far in the Premier League for the Red Devils.
United themselves have scored 12 goals in the league this campaign, leaking only two compared to Everton’s four. Therefore, Rooney’s role in Sunday’s match must be similar to the way he played at Old Trafford in recent seasons. Helping his team press United and flood their midfield so that they cannot play their quick tiki taka play.
While each side of fans will be thinking where Rooney’s loyalty lies on his return, the experience of seeing him play against United again is one that should be embraced by both camps.