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Wayne Rooney: mature or past it?


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A debate has been raging for some time now, arguably reaching its peak during the Euros, about what role Wayne Rooney is best suited to in his older years. As a young man he was prolific in front of goal for club and country, but the edge seems a little duller as he approaches his 31st birthday.

Many, including most notably Sir Alex Ferguson, have suggested he would shine in a midfield role but having shifted into that role for both Manchester United and England, the spark still hasn’t been regained…

Now, with Manchester United reeling in the wake of three hard defeats, is there a place for Rooney in the team? He remains a figurehead for the club as club captain and a recurring presence in the club's marketing and publicity; equally the goal scoring records he holds in international and club football speak in his favour. However his contribution on the pitch has been consistently brought into question of late. Is he simply ‘past it’?

A recent article in The Guardian resurrected an argument made a while ago by current England manager, Sam Allardyce. He claimed a top flight player only has a decade of optimal performance so for an early bloomer like Rooney, who was playing the Premier League and turning heads at 16, it follows that he was in decline as early as age 26.

This theory roughly ties in with Rooney’s record too - his goal scoring peak came in the 2011/2012 season when he netted 27 league goals in 34 appearances.

Equally Rooney’s status as an early bloomer in the game, (he was tangling with great Premiership players on an equal footing in terms of both skill and physicality from a surprisingly early age) and star-status has left him often in the media spotlight. For a seemingly modest Liverpool lad the immense scale of media scrutiny must have taken a psychological toll. His marriage, his family, his temperament and his on-pitch performances have been closely monitored since his teenage years. That taxing lifestyle of course has gone some way to creating the Wayne Rooney we see now.

Whether the Manchester United skipper should remain a firm part of Jose Mourinho’s on-going plans for the team is a tough question, but early season performances don’t point to a starting spot.

Fans of both England and Manchester United have been waiting too long to see ‘the real Wayne Rooney’, to see him return to what the pundits so keenly (and so often) remember. The truth, though, is that that player is gone - and the player that remains is struggling to find his place in Manchester United’s plans. As a figurehead and on the back of his record and prestigious past he’s remained a consistent starter for England and for United. It’s time to thoroughly re-evaluate.


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