Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen
When a 16 year old is signed for a massive 25.6 million pounds, people expect him to retire as one of the greatest to have ever graced the game. The ‘White Pele‘, Wayne Rooney, moves yet another step closer to greatness, as he finally amassed a landmark 200 goals for Manchester United with a brace against Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League, repaying every single pound spent on him by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2004.
The Wayne Rooney transfer saga has come to an end, at least for now, with the forward deciding to stick with the Reds for another season. Many view this decision as a silver lining to a very poor transfer window for United.
So what could 200 goals mean for an ‘angry and confused’ player like Rooney?
Firstly, as a striker, scoring 200 goals for a single club, in one of the hardest leagues in the world, is by no means a small feat. In addition to this, scoring these many for a club of the stature of Manchester United, is truly remarkable, considering the quality of the players who preceded him, such as the likes of Cole and Yorke. Wayne Rooney has amassed a total of 201 goals in 409 appearances for the club, making him the fourth highest scorer for United and only 48 goals behind top scorer Sir Bobby Charlton.
Everyone knows by now that Rooney is all about his football. Last season, he was clearly unhappy with the way things were going at the club, with Sir Alex claiming that he had allegedly filed a transfer request at the end of the season. This ‘unhappiness’ was reflected in his levels of performance and fitness.
For Rooney to start the season as strongly as he has done so far, it clearly shows that he has the right attitude, desire and fitness levels to play. There’s no greater force than a motivated and fit Rooney. He looks like a man on a mission, to prove his critics wrong, no matter what it takes.
But did United do the right thing by keeping an unsettled player like Rooney? After all, no player is bigger than the club. So why did the club battle so hard to keep him?
The answer is quite simple, really. Rooney personifies the Manchester United spirit. His gritty and aggressive nature is what United is all about. When Rooney is playing well, he brings a lot of energy and passion which make the players around him equally hungry. Keeping a player like Rooney is half the battle won for Manchester United, or so it would appear.
Manchester United were firm on his situation from day one. They were able to fight off their closest rivals, Chelsea, who openly courted him throughout the window. They realized that it would be a huge psychological blow to the club, in addition to, a loss of quality. It’s not every day that United are at risk of losing one of their biggest players.
The club has protected and supported him all the way. With Sir Alex no longer in the fray, a new management is perhaps, what Wayne needs right now. Having previously worked with David Moyes at Everton, there is no doubt that Moyes will do whatever it takes to bring back that 16-year-old lad, he once knew. The players love him and know how important he is to the club if they are to mount a challenge this season. In a transfer window that brought about one significant signing, Rooney is needed now more than ever.
So it appears that the club seems to have accepted him, but what about the fans? Are they ready to forgive him for a second time?
When the story of his alleged transfer request broke out the second time, the United faithful were angry and wanted him out as soon as possible, giving the club enough time to find a suitable replacement. The situation got worse, day by day, No indications were forthcoming from the Rooney camp regarding his situation, even making David Moyes look a bit foolish in the press conferences. The fans seemed to be more ‘angry and confused’ than him.
This anger slowly developed into fear, when rivals such as Arsenal and Chelsea, looked to seize the opportunity. The fans couldn’t bear to see him join another club in England. The fact that he didn’t clarify the situation made the fans even more apprehensive.
Rooney was pulled out of the pre-season squad just days before the first game. Questions were raised as to whether he was really injured, or whether something was taking place in the background. It appeared that it was only a matter of time before Chelsea had their man and the fans were resigned to the fact that he was leaving. United still hadn’t made a marquee signing and the fans were really frustrated, with many calling it quits even before the start of the season.
Many expected Rooney to get some stick from the fans, when he made his first appearance of the season. It was quite the contrary, actually. The fans were behind him, firing him up, making him feel loved again. They just couldn’t hate their hero. Rooney knew that he could only win the trust of the fans once again with his performances. His recent performances have been second to none. His body language seems to have a put smile back on everyone’s faces. So far, he has been very professional about the situation and the dressing room seems to be united.
If Rooney were to maintain this current form for large periods of the season, there is no doubt that United will be gunning for trophies till the very last day. It is the responsibility of the club as well as the fans to ensure that Rooney is happy and motivated. There is no better club for him at this point in time than Manchester United. Once he realizes this, there’s no doubt that he will finish his career at Manchester United and attain the legendary status he truly deserves.
The past will be forgotten and the Stretford End will continue to chant his name forever!