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Wayne Rooney belongs among Manchester United legends

Monday 24th July 2017
In the week or so that has followed Wayne Rooney's return to Everton, many Manchester United fans have been quick to celebrate his departure and others have stated that Wayne Rooney doesn't deserve to be placed alongside other Old Trafford legends like George Best, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs.

Some put it down to the decline in his performances during his final four seasons at the club, campaigns which saw Rooney rewarded with a new contract worth around £250,000 per week, which many felt he wasn't worthy of. Others use this contract to prove their point as he had previously edged for a move elsewhere before signing the new long-term deal. However, in my opinion, Rooney does deserve his place as an Old Trafford legend.

Let's look at the basic facts. Rooney joined United in 2004 for what was a world record fee for a teenager. But that pressure didn't faze Rooney in the slightest as he smashed in a hat trick on his United debut; at Old Trafford, in the Champions League.
But this was no flash in the pan performance; Rooney continued to demonstrate his immense talent dominating games through his pace and power as well as scoring goals of immense quality. Who could forget his net bursting volley against Newcastle when he interrupted berating the referee to smash a dropping ball into the top corner? Then there is perhaps the goal for which he is best remembered. A goal this writer was fortunate enough to witness live from behind the net it was scored in. His overhead kick to secure derby victory over Manchester City at Old Trafford. This is a player who went on to become the all-time leading goalscorer for both United and England. For me, the good outweighs the bad.

Rooney takes off to score that famous goal against Manchester City

But let's look at the bad since we have touched upon it earlier. The decline in performances were certainly a let-down for us fans who had grown accustomed to Rooney dominating games, but it was clear that the same desire still burned. Was Rooney's body no longer able to do what his mind wanted it to? Was he frustrated by what he felt was a decline in quality of his team mates? Many have suggested that the reason for it was the ankle injury he sustained against Bayern Munich in 2010 and the decision to rush him back from it. Whatever the reason; I personally do not believe that four poor seasons should carry greater weight than nine good ones.

Finally, the biggest stick used to beat Rooney with is him asking to leave the club only to stay and sign a new contract for more money. Firstly I am not sure Rooney would have been the first player to do this and looking at the transfer market now he certainly wasn't the last. The fact is he did stay and he ended up winning every club trophy it was possible to win.
Back in 2005 Steven Gerrard apparently had his heart set on a move to Chelsea and did everything he could to push it through. But it didn't happen and Gerrard stayed and went on to win the Champions League, should he be stripped of his legend status at Liverpool because of his flirtation with Chelsea?

What about two of the legends mentioned at the beginning. Denis Law didn't ask to leave United; he was told he wasn't wanted. But he did score a goal which helped relegate United back in 1974, should we take down his part of the statue that stands outside Old Trafford because of it? Or what about Ryan Giggs? Ok he never did and never wanted to leave but he became associated with the regimes of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal; which sullied his name in the way Rooney's performances sullied his, yet Giggs is still considered a legend.

What about Sir Matt Busby. He has almost beyond legendary status at United, his statue stands above the Megastore, looking down upon what he created. But before the war and taking the United job, Busby played for both Manchester City and Liverpool. Let's pull that statue down, shall we?

For me, loyalty in football is a funny thing. As fans we show immense loyalty, we pick our team and we get behind them, no matter what and most of us never change our teams. As a result, we seem to expect the same from players, but this seems unrealistic to me. In the modern age ‘one club men' are few and far between and ultimately footballers are just the same as the rest of us. If a company offers you more money for doing the same job, would you take it? You might offer your present employer the chance to match those terms, but if they failed, most of us would take the other job. Why should footballers be any different? As long as things are done in the correct way of course.

So, for this writer, Wayne Rooney deserves to be considered a Manchester United legend.
Jonathan Kahn

I love the Premier League and I am a season ticket holder at Manchester United. However, I do follow my local club Bury FC as much as possible. I'm a lover of all things related to football, especially like the odd game of FIFA and more than the odd game of Football Manager. If you don't find me talking about actual football you will usually find me talking about Fantasy Football. I'm a self-confessed addict. 

I'm definitely a football addict.

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