By Josh Powell | Sports writer
‘I am very excited. I think we have got the best young player this country has seen in the past 30 years’.
Sir Alex Ferguson on signing Wayne Rooney in September 2004
The day 18-year-old superstar Wayne Rooney left his boy-hood club Everton to join the Red Devils, United fans had plenty of reason to be as excited as Razor Ruddock hearing the sound of an ice cream van.
Eight years, four Premier League medals, two League Cups, a Champions League and a brand-new mop of hair later, has Rooney really developed into the world-class player we thought he would be?
Wazza notched four goals in just three-and-a-quarter games at Euro 2004 before being United’s top scorer in his first season with 11 goals in the Premier League. But his goal-tally isn’t close to the best in the world, and at 27 years-old the striker could be past his peak, without ever living up to his bold bidding as the best of a generation.
Out of the 509 players, managers and media folk asked to pick their best player in the world for the FIFA Ballon D’Or award only one chose Rooney to come out on top: Georgia national captain Jaba Kankava. Cheers Jaba, there’s a voucher in the post for Coleen’s latest range at Littlewoods.
The 2009/2010 season was a highlight for Rooney as he banged in 26 league goals in 32 games, including hogging all United’s penalty kicks. The England striker has averaged just 16 league goals a season in his eight years at Old Trafford which is a poor return for a striker mentioned in the same breath as Messi and Ronaldo. In his United career Rooney has averaged a league goal every 175 minutes. Only breaking the 20-goal a season mark on two occasions.
In the last three years the four-time Ballon D’Or winner and man of impeccable fashion taste, Lionel Messi, has averaged a league goal every 80 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo may have the biggest ego this side of Piers Morgan but he’s earned it with the exact same record as Messi since 2009. And, despite having to play for a club with as much chance of winning the title as Wigan, Rooney’s United team-mate Robin Van Persie averaged a Premier League goal every 104 minutes in the last couple of years he was with Arsenal.
The £27million-man from Merseyside has been plagued by injuries with three metatarsal breaks between 2004 and 2007 and has also suffered from Alex Ferguson playing the tinker man and shoving Wazza out wide to cater for players like Ronaldo and RVP. His patches of brilliance are world-class but the patches are frequently few and far between.
Rooney’s weight has been more up and down than Jessica Simpson on a space hopper and the striker is in danger of losing his place in the United team, with Robin Van Persie the main man in Fergie’s plans. RVP has averaged a goal every 104 minutes this season and Javier Hernandez is even sharper inside the box, finding the net every 75 minutes.
Wazza is an outsider at 40/1 to finish the year as the Premier League’s top goalscorer, with Luis Suarez and RVP already on more than double Rooney’s tally of just seven. Wayne Rooney burst on to the scene touted as potentially one of the world’s best but almost nine years down the line he never produced the goods we expected from the boy wonder.
For a player to be among the best in the world he has to produce the goods consistently every week, Rooney simply hasn’t done it.