Monday 23 January 2017

Opinion: Record breaker Rooney's due some respect

Wayne Rooney has bludgeoned the ball into a net 250 times. more than any other of the 899 players to have pulled on the Red shirt of United and Newton Heath over the last 139 years.

Perhaps because it's been built up for so long, maybe because two blokes called Messi and Ronaldo seem to score that many per season these days, or perhaps because it's Wayne, but the number and scale of his achievements seem to have been diluted. 

Rooney hasn't just strolled to the front of the queue: he's had to graft his way past a cavalry of genuine greats. Legends that include the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, the two Denises, Law and Viollet, Eric Cantona, CR7, Sir Bobby, Ryan Giggs, George Best and countless others.

In doing so, he's massively impacted on United's fortunes. His 250 goals have come in 189 games, 164 of which have been wins. Six of the remaining goals - including Saturday's record-breaker at Stoke and the Ewood Park penalty that clinched title number 19 - have directly clawed the team back from a losing position. Only 14 goals have come in defeats and he's broken the deadlock in 82 previously goalless encounters.

Rooney has scored in every round of the Champions League and FA Cup (except the final), two League Cup finals and semi finals and the World Club Cup final and semi-final: his contribution when it comes to the business end of tournaments is unarguable. 

He's scored in 46 different stadiums, across 14 different countries, against 94 different goalkeepers and 98 different managers. The indisputable fact of all this is that Wayne Rooney is due a serious outpouring of respect, something that he hasn't had much of in recent years.

The reaction after he equalled the record in the FA Cup win over Reading earlier this month was questionable.
Firstly, there was the ridiculous furore over his shirt swap with George Evans which took place in the tunnel, and then the suggestion that the record could be under threat from Marcus Rashford.

Rashford is a rare and precocious talent but even the teenager would admit that such talk is premature and disrespectful.  The potential of Rooney breaking the club's goalscoring record was first mentioned after his hat-trick in that 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal in 2011. The subsequent wait has diluted the appreciation of his achievement, but that wait is over and the record is now Rooney's. 

He has realised his greatest individual aim a few months after completing his set of domestic club honours.  There is nothing left for him to prove, history has been re-written to his greatness and perhaps now Rooney will get the recognition and respect befitting a player who has cordoned off a truly unique achievement. 

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