Many years, several trophies and one receding hairline have passed since Wayne Rooney rolled into Old Trafford. Eyebrows and probably Fergie’s blood pressure were raised when United gave Everton £25.6 million for the 18 year old Rooney back in 2004, Despite a few ups and downs and one unscheduled holiday in Dubai, it looks like money well spent now.
He’s the subject of our great Money-Back Special for the game, so what better time to put his Manchester United record under the spotlight and tag along some offensive jokes?
His goalscoring record has come under more scrutiny than the transfer of an obscure Portuguese player to Old Trafford. Rooney has gone through more barren spells than a 45 year old bachelor still living at home, but when he’s hot, he’s ‘tomato at the centre of a cheese toastie’ hot. Those hot spells have been plentiful enough to take him to 181 goals for the club in 361 appearances. That has him nearly bang on the ‘goal every other game’ cliché that so many pundits seem to accept as an acceptable return for a striker.
This season has been particularly fruitful, with Rooney bagging 34 from 40 appearances in all competitions. If he scores twenty goals a season for the 4 seasons, he’ll overtake Bobby Charlton in terms of goals scored for United and baldness before he’s 30. Not too shabby for a player who frequently finds himself out on the wing, in midfield and in the tabloids for allegations of marital infidelity.
There may also be the impression that Rooney’s goalscoring prowess has been inflated courtesy of the amount of times referees fall for Ashley Young’s diving. With nine goals from the spot this season, the view isn’t entirely unwarranted, but surprisingly, overall he hasn’t scored that many penalties for the Red Devils. Thanks to Ruud van Nistelrooy’s marksmanship and Cristiano Ronaldo’s relentless self-interest, he didn’t become United’s penalty taker until the 2009/10 season. It’s not on the graph, but only 18 of his grand total have come from the spot.
Rooney’s contribution when United take on their noisy neighbours has been important. His stunning overhead kick/jammy shinner [delete as appropriate to your point of view] to win the derby of February 2011 was the most spectacular, but he’s done more than that. He’s bagged 8 in total against City, but more impressively, most of them have come when City weren’t bumbling along in mid to lower table obscurity. He’s scored six in his last nine games with the Citizens and Monday night would be a great time to improve on that record.
There’s also the impression he’s about as disciplined as James Corden at an all you can eat buffet, but that’s something of a disservice. Yeah, he’s petulant and occasionally cartoonishly violent, but he saves most of it for England duty, where there’s only trifling trophies like the World Cup up for grabs. He has picked up 63 yellow cards since being a United player, but considering he’s played in excess of 350 games, it’s not massively high. Two red cards whilst at United – one of which was basically for sarcastic clapping – also suggest he isn’t the hot-headed lunatic he often gets painted as. At least while he’s under Fergie’s gaze.
His time at Old Trafford hasn’t always been a trouble-free, but there’s no doubt Rooney has been a star at Old Trafford. If he shines again on Monday, United will almost certainly have title number 20 in the bag.
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