Will the real Wayne Rooney please stand up?

It’s been an indifferent year for Wayne Rooney and Manchester United fans alike. Last season Rooney was in the greatest form of his career, scoring at pretty much every opportunity that came for him. The Manchester United fans were left speechless at how Rooney appeared to take over the mantle, the huge void that was left behind when Ronaldo set sights for greater things, all by himself. Rooney had well and truly justified his promotion from being the number 8, to a clinical and efficient marksman, a true number 10 striker.  A fairly injury free season had everyone believing there was never to be an end to this fantastic form and with the world cup just around the corner, fans everywhere were licking their lips at the thought of what he could do on the world stage.

Then came the inevitable, in the Carling Cup final against Aston Villa Rooney had aggravated his knee, the first knock he’d taken all season. Never the less he played through it and scored a delightful header to seal the trophy for Manchester United, however the warning signs were there.

What came next would be pivotal, an ankle injury.  Rooney picked it up against Bayern Munich in their Champions League meeting. It looked to have brought Rooney crashing down from what must have felt an untouchable feeling, an end to his fantastic form looked imminent. Countless fitness tests later, Rooney played again in the return fixture, and again, he aggravated the same injury. Manchester United fans and England fans alike, felt devastated.

Rooney had been an unstoppable force throughout the season, now; he was struggling to be fit again.

The World Cup came along, and Rooney was declared fit. Were we to see the same potent striker who powered his way to 30+ goals for his club all season?

As the final whistle blew in England’s second fixture, Rooney, who had been a shadow of his former self throughout the tournament, turned his frustration to the camera, and the millions watching. The temperament that he’d been punished for before, and seemingly had moved on from, was taking over.

As the season began, there were huge expectations on Rooney; would he reach the same heights that he did the previous year?

A slow start to the season saw United somehow manage to scrape precious points that were undeservedly theirs. Rooney wasn’t the same player we were expecting to see.

He picked up an injury that saw him ruled out until the new year, his only memorable moment a goal from a penalty against struggling West Ham.

Then came a moment that no United fan is going to forget, Rooney came out to the public, and told them he wished to leave United. The team that built his career, that made him the star who is he is, he wished to leave them behind because he felt the team wasn’t strong enough.

Undermining both his United counterparts, and the authoritative figure of Sir Alex Ferguson it seemed he was almost definitely departing, with Ferguson even admitting his disappointment.

Fast forward a few months and here we are. Rooney stayed at Manchester United, with a somewhat increased wage package, and we have seen but glimpses of the form that had him soaring so high last season. Yet, for every piece of brilliance on the pitch, there is inevitably something that mars that off the pitch.

Most recently, after a brilliant hat trick against west ham to bring United back from the dead and maintain top spot, he turned to the camera in a moment of petulance.

There is no doubt that he is an exceptional player on his day, but for United fans, and England fans, now is the time for the real Wayne Rooney to stand up and show his worth.

 

Dale Benton

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