Now I’m probably going to be slated for even suggesting that Wayne Rooney is past his best. It’s dodgy territory for a sports journo. English football fans have taken Wayne into their hearts over the years and I can understand why. Rooney is a passionate and hardworking player for United and England who has the ability to score spectacular goals. But he is also much more than that, his goal scoring record for the club is simply phenomenal.
No matter how good I think Wayne has been in the past the truth is sometimes you have to move on, even when you adore a player who has spent eleven years with the club. What tends to be forgotten is that Wayne Rooney is on 300k a week and he has scored just 9 goals in 21 appearances for his club. Yes, he has played out of position but who hasn’t? Over the past ten years United have had some brilliant strikers Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov, Danny Welbeck and Chicharito Hernandez. There is a case to suggest that at least three if not four of the five strikers I have mentioned have ultimately spent their entire United career fitting around Wayne Rooney. A rift with Sir Alex was reported at the end of 2012/13 and had Fergie not left the club there is case to suggest Wayne would have been moved on. United, well they would have cashed in and potentially Diego Costa could be starting for United rather than Chelsea? Who knows.
This week Louis van Gaal has been reported as saying United are lacking an out an out goal scorer this season and you can’t argue with his comments. Reported exclusively in the Daily Mirror the Dutchman said;
“They [United’s strikers] could be having an unlucky year and I have to take account of these aspects and I have to decide, with my staff, if it’s these aspects or other aspects.”
Van Persie who bagged 30 goals in his debut season for United has scored just ten goals this season, whilst Falcao has just four and young striker James Wilson has two.
With 225 goals in 11 years at United, the statistics don’t lie and Rooney has averaged 20 goals a season playing through the middle. But in the last five years he has score 20+ goals just once. By comparison one of United’s most prolific goal scorers Ruud van Nistelrooy scored over 20 goals in 4 of the 5 seasons he spent at the club. On three occasions scoring 30+ and in 2002-2003 he scored 44 goals in a single season. Now I understand I’m comparing Wayne with one of the greats here but he hasn’t shown that sort of form in years.
I can not dispute that Rooney should be the man to lead the line over the coming games. But is he a long term solution to United’s goal drought? The problem with Wayne Rooney is that he peaked at 19/20 and he is now 29, that’s a long career when you have been at the highest level for so long. Of course there is a place for him at the club, he is one of United’s greats but is he the future of the club? Does he still have the speed and goal scoring threat of his younger years? Can he still be the player United need?
Tottenham Hotspur have given their young striker a chance this season and they are being rewarded. Is it time United give their own youngster, James Wilson, the opportunity to emulate his goal scoring hero Wayne Rooney?