””

Eye On EPL

Rooney may be on the Wayne, but striker is still special

After scoring his 250th goal at Stoke on Saturday, Wayne Rooney can be justifiably proud of his status as the all time top scorer for Manchester United.

Personally, having been a striker myself, I can understand his pride. Till this day, I still find satisfaction in the fact that I have scored a record 380 S-League goals. For Rooney, this is a great achievement for a footballer who started very young at 16 - and he is still very young at 31.

It is unfortunate that his form appeared to go down after his explosive start as a teenager.

I think one of the biggest reasons is that he started playing so many different positions. He had played as a main striker, a support striker and an attacking midfielder.

When you're playing for a big club like United and the club sign big-name strikers like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov, these players may not be so keen to play out of position. I have a feeling Rooney didn't know how to say no and that's when his form went down, because he never really had a fixed position; he was just floating around, helping the team in any position he was played.

But when you see what he has done for the team, I think any manager should be happy. As much Rooney has been criticised over his lack of speed and skill, he was then the youngest scorer in English Premier League history in 2002 after he scored for Everton against Arsenal five days before his 17th birthday.


Wayne Rooney has kept himself motivated for a long period, since he burst onto the Premier League as a 16-year-old with Everton. He is still only 31, and could score many more goals for Man United. PHOTO: REUTERS

Every player has a different style of play, so it is unfair to make direct comparisons between Rooney and top EPL strikers like Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham and Michael Owen. They all have their own way of playing and Rooney is special, because he had played in different positions.

It is very hard to stay at the top level and be in top shape. So I hope holding United's goals record will motivate Rooney to work harder and play even better.

Rooney has been with the Red Devils since 2004, and he knows the club inside out. But when a player has stayed in one club for too long, he could lose the competitive hunger and desire.

He will be 32 this year and he has probably reached the crossroads and thinking about whether he is ready to finish his career at Old Trafford or move on.

There are reports of Chinese Super League clubs willing to make him the world's best-paid player and he cannot be blamed if he wants to cash in and enjoy football at a lower level while being paid an enormous amount of money.

But Rooney is so connected to United and he is a competitive player that he will retire as a Red Devil. And I admire that, because you don't get many players doing that these days.

Every player has a different style of play, so it is unfair to make direct comparisons between Rooney and top EPL strikers like Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham and Michael Owen. They all have their own way of playing and Rooney is special, because he had played in different positions.

And now, after 250 goals for United, Rooney can now write his name into that list of greatest EPL strikers ever.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2017, with the headline 'Rooney may be on the Wayne, but striker is still special'. Print Edition | Subscribe