Far be it from me to reintroduce myself to the football writing community with a boast, but remember this article of some prescience published by yours truly? Granted I failed to see retirement of Fergie, but the Rooney saga looms large at United now as it did then.
However the point of this article is not comment on how proceedings will play out between Rooney and club, but rather to focus on the reasons underpinning United’s staunch refusal to allow Rooney to leave. The biggest reason of which is this: Wayne Rooney has been the finest player in the premiership for the last 10 years and is still the club’s foremost talent, with the capacity to provide many more years of brilliance.
As I write, I hear cries of ‘preposterous’ and ‘ridiculous’, however there is logic to back up my bold claim.
What better way to champion Rooney, than to consider the arguments of the main candidates to be crowned the Prem’s finest 2003-2013?
Cristiano Ronaldo? Certainly his sustained brilliance over a three-year period was a sight to behold as his blistering speed allied to unearthly physical gifts propelled him to the top of the game. Ronaldo won full honours at United playing a pivotal role in the reemergence of United, following the initial period of Mourinho led Chelsea dominance.
However, Ronaldo brilliance was mainly contained in three trophy-laded years (2006-09), his departure for Madrid has seen him continue his vertiginous rise but his relatively brief career in England rules him out of the debate on the grounds of longevity.
How about Steven Gerrard? The Liverpool captain has spent much of the last decade carrying a team with superhuman endeavor. The scouse is the complete midfielder, able to act as playmaker, enforcer, marksman and leader at the same time.
His match winning efforts in the Champions League final of 2005 and the FA cup of 2006 are beyond any single moment that Rooney has conjured. However, the absence of a title in his cabinet will always count against him, as will an almost barren trophy return in the last five years and a marked decline in his powers in the last three seasons.
Perhaps Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs? Certainly the evergreen duo have continued to exert their influence on United and at times stood put among their peers. However, the truth is that both suffered drastic dips in the last decade (albeit reemerging from them brilliantly) and they have rarely been the main players in the United dressing room. Rather, they have remained constants as others players (chiefly Rooney have Roanldo) have overtaken them in terms of decisiveness and importance.
How about the all-conquering Chelsea duo of Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard? The Ivorian won every major honour at club level developing an astonishing tendency to score in finals and memorably departed London with the winning penalty in the champion’s league final.
His ability to consistently provide the moments of difference in big moments is unrivalled on English shores, however too often his work rate and attitude let his team down. (Think back to being sent off against Chelsea in 2008 C.L Final, or Barcelona in 2009 or Inter in 2010.) The Ivorian was some player however even at his best he was never considered a member of the highest elite, that coterie occupied by the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Xavi and Iniesta.