Withdrawn role perfect for revitalised Rooney

Everton's Wayne Rooney celebrating with team-mate Gylfi Sigurdsson after the latter's splendid long-range goal against Swansea on Monday.
Everton's Wayne Rooney celebrating with team-mate Gylfi Sigurdsson after the latter's splendid long-range goal against Swansea on Monday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Sam Allardyce is convinced Wayne Rooney's future lies in a deeper role, but the Everton manager also believes England's record scorer (53 goals in 119 caps) can prolong his career after helping his boyhood club move into the top half of the Premier League table.

Former England captain Rooney has scored six goals as Everton recorded four wins and a draw in the league since Allardyce agreed to become Ronald Koeman's replacement last month.

The 32-year-old has been substituted in each of those matches as Allardyce seeks to keep him fresh for the Christmas period, and the former England manager acknowledged that his return to form since leaving Manchester United in the summer on a free transfer is an indication that his career still has some way to run.

"I think the move and the timing of the move looks like it was perfect for Everton and perfect for him, and he's proving that now," Allardyce said.

"The last year at United, he wasn't playing and he wanted to play.

"So he's come to Everton and, after a difficult start for everybody because of results, he's come through that period now and we really need him, we need him at that level, and to continue at that level for the rest of the season.

"He's had a huge career, but he's only 32, not in his mid-30s.

"Looking after yourself a different way when you go into your mid-30s is what it is all about now."

With 10 league goals, Rooney has already achieved his most successful campaign in front of goal since the 2014-15 season at United, when he managed 12.

He signed a two-year contract with an option of a third last summer, but Allardyce expects his future to be in more of a supporting role, with Everton understood to be keen on signing a striker in the January transfer window.

"He's not a front-line player now. We know that, we both accept that and we both see that role a little deeper, but we still want to use his guile and his experience around the box," Allardyce added.

"It doesn't have to be as a front man, it can be in behind as a No. 10.

"He showed against West Ham it can be in the right side of a three, and still have the opportunity to get in the box and score.

"He can also make the cutting-edge pass which we saw against Huddersfield and Liverpool and that's an important part as well."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2017, with the headline 'Withdrawn role perfect for revitalised Rooney'. Print Edition | Subscribe