“Do you think you’re a top player?”
“Then why have Chelsea offered only £25m for you?”
Damning words from an ultimately damned manager, but this conversation between Rooney and David Moyes, during the latter’s unsuccessful tenure at the helm of Manchester United, speaks volumes about the mentality of the English striker. Fans of the club will hope that, after signing a new five-year deal in February, Rooney’s mental state has settled as fans will seldom want to relive the 2010 transfer saga that has constantly divided fans’ opinion on the striker.
Rooney, as The Guardian reported earlier this week, felt that this abovementioned conversation served to spur him on and it cannot be denied Rooney was one of a select few Manchester United players who have come through the disastrous 2013/2014 campaign with even a semblance of good form.
However Rooney, now 28, has struggled to replicate the form that saw him named 2009-2010 PFA Player’s Player of the year for his club and indeed many would argue he has never demonstrated his true ability at the highest level for his country. It is no secret Rooney has been the target of many fan’s ire, both from his club and country. But is time running out for Wayne Rooney at an international level? Certainly Hodgson has replacements in abundance in Liverpool pair Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge and Rooney’s own club teammate Danny Welbeck.
Rooney’s position within the England camp has changed considerably from, for example, the 2006 World Cup campaign where his recovery from a foot injury seemed integral to England’s chances in the tournament. Rooney’s position as a fan favourite in 2006 is a stark contrast to his current position with England boss Roy Hodgson recently commenting that he is ‘not afraid to drop Rooney’.
With Rooney’s ‘undroppable’ status revoked it is now up to the striker to once again make his worth known and make himself a mainstay in his manager’s plans. Indeed this is not a problem Rooney faces solely with his international career. With the recent appointment of the soon to be former Holland manager Louis van Gaal as Manchester United manager, Rooney will have to assert his worth to the team and force his way into the plans of van Gaal, who will undoubtedly be unphased by the prospect of dropping Rooney in place of his fellow countryman Robin van Persie. Even United legend Paul Scholes has weighed in on the current pressure on his former teammate, suggesting that Rooney may have reached his footballing peak years ago.
While time may be running out for the 28-year old, if Rooney truly believes himself to be a top player, this is exactly the stage to prove his undoubted worth.
By Conor Timlin
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