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Victim of Circumstance: The continuing saga of Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney has five Premier League titles, brought home one Champions League cup and can round out his trophy case with a smattering of individual and secondary club honors.

Wazza also happens to be the highest paid English footballer on the planet, raking in £300k a week. (Yes you read that correctly, £300,000 / $456,550…per week.)

Given the aforementioned, and his rollercoaster relationship with United brass, continued transfer talks (abroad as well as to hated rivals Chelsea, as recently as last year), it would be fair to say that the blessed footballer hasn’t made things easy on himself.

But as the Evertonian prodigy turned England captain is on the cusp of turning 30, the man who bagged two PFA young player of the year awards is looking back at a career of missed opportunities.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the brutish and energetic center forward with a surgical eye for goal would have developed into the world’s greatest striker, and his high defensive work rate and passing acumen would be considered a pleasant surplus when a manager fields a side. Rooney exhibits an unprecedented work rate on both sides of the ball, to a fault.

For a man of Rooney’s level of skill, he hasn’t received a fair shake from his club and international bosses for some time now.

Rooney’s international career has been calamitous in its own right. His best world cup tournament (2006) ended with the moody forward stomping on the groin of Portugal international and then-Chelsea player Ricardo Carvalho. Adding insult to injury, his United teammate and depth chart rival Cristiano Ronaldo may have had something to do with England’s #9 being sent off.

Rooney’s 2010 World Cup performance was filled with ugly displays where an ineffective midfield couldn’t supply Rooney with chances. In 2014, Rooney switched roles, and spearheaded England’s midfield attack. Rooney didn’t gel with the youngsters around him as England didn’t advance to the knockout stages of the world cup for the first time since 1958.

Add 2008’s lack of European Championship qualification and multiple penalty kick disasters and that’s the international resume of England’s current captain.

Back in North London, Rooney is also somewhat of an enigma – a player so versatile that his managers punish him for it.

In 2008, Sir Alex Ferguson openly admitted that Rooney had been deployed out of position to make room for Cristiano Ronaldo during his time with United. Ferguson also vowed to fix that mistake, but never did. During Ferguson’s last Champion’s League match, a pivotal second leg against Real Madrid, not only did Fergie not put Wazza at his preferred #9, he instead placed him on the bench in favor of new signing Robin Van Persie (who also pipped Rooney’s penalty taking responsibilities).

Ferguson deployed Rooney on both flanks, in supporting roles and on occasion deep within midfield, just as Louis Van Gaal buried him behind the likes of Marouanne Fellaini in Tuesday’s FA Cup route of Cambridge.

Rooney has been asked to adapt to new roles based on the whims of his manager’s extravagant tactics throughout his club career, while never adequately supplemented internationally.

The most natural goalscorer in England is playing center mid again, this time for Louis Van Gaal. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised, Michael Carrick is his preferred first choice center back.

 

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