By the time you read this, it’s pretty likely that Wayne Rooney is no longer a Manchester United player. As I put pen (key) to paper (board) the Red Devils captain is on the verge of re-joining his boyhood club Everton after being sent home from Man U’s pre-season tour of the US.
For a while it had looked like he might stay at Old Trafford, warming the bench. His much praised “Desire to play football” not quite as big as his less praised “Desire to sit on his arse and watch his bank balance grow.”
It’s this, a potentially mercenary side that means some United fans won’t be disappointed to see the sizeable back of Wazza.
For the last 12 months debate has raged as to Rooney’s status at the club. Should he be considered a legend?
To me, it’s incredible this discussion is even taking place. Surely after 12 years in Manchester and notching up 253 goals, becoming the club’s all-time top goal-scorer in the process, he should be automatically crowned “King of the Stretford End” but some fans argue that the occasions on which he has “held the club to ransom”, once threatening a move to arch-rivals City, has damaged his stock. “A true legend would never do THAT” they shout.
Maybe he did let himself down with some very public transfer negotiations in the past but, in truth, Rooney wanted to win trophies and he didn’t see that happening at United. He saw a club lacking in ambition. An argument it was hard to disagree with at that stage. Nothing says “throwing in the towel” like selling Cristiano Ronaldo and replacing him with Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan now does it?
Even in the last two week’s, there is talk of a “£30 Million War” between United and the former-Everton youngster. Rooney is happy to sit out the final year of his £300k a week contract on the Old Trafford bench rather than take a pay cut. Potentially forcing the clubs hand in supplementing his wage packet for his destination club. Why on earth would Rooney ever have to consider moving to China to earn a fortune when he can earn a fortune doing fuck all in Manchester?
Does this make Rooney different to any footballer? No. With a few notable exceptions, every single player in the Premier League (and beyond) is playing for one thing – the paycheque. You star striker may thump his chest and kiss the badge of your club now, but should a bigger sack of cash come along he won’t just kiss their badge, he’ll kiss whatever they ask him too (and we all know Rooney isn’t too fussy about what he kisses).
Fans want players to be fans. They’re not. They’re players and Rooney is, or certainly was, a supremely talented one. For that reason, if ANY modern play can be classed a legend, then why not Rooney?
If you listen to my podcast you’ll know I’m not his biggest fan. His hair, his lifestyle, his dalliances with elderly ladies and his physique more akin to that of a darts player than a professional footballer make him a very easy target but I have no doubt that as he stands by the club shop on his way out of Old Trafford that he should be considered amongst the greatest ever players to pull on the red jersey of Manchester United.
Rooney still has a profile, a status, a value. Wherever he ends up playing his football next season you can guarantee that the wide-eyed, hopeful hearted, young fans eagerly watching him kick a ball for their club for the first time with one thought running through their heads “Wayne Rooney… Legend”.
Jim is the man behind On The Left Side, the satirical football show.
You can check out his very DIFFERENT football podcast here: