Celebration of Rooney’s underwhelming career is the perfect reminder of how far England have come

Wayne Rooney’s grand farewell at Wembley on Thursday night split opinion. Things that are out of the ordinary tend to, and a return special appearance of this ilk had not been seen for an England international.

It gave extra meaning to a match played in front of thousands of empty seats, it gave Rooney a last ovation (well, several of them) from the fans who saw him at his best and worst in a Three Lions jersey.

The match itself was a bit of a damp squib. A young USA team was no match for even England’s second string, which allowed Rooney to enjoy a relaxed spell on the pitch in the second half.

His international career ends with 120 caps and 53 goals. No other England international has scored more. Rooney won the England Men’s Senior Player of the Year on four occasions and captained his country numerous times. All of these things are impressive, and he will be remembered for a long time as a very good, committed England international.

The numbers are impressive, but Rooney’s international career was ultimately forgettable.

Some of that is down to the immense hype as a teenager, some is down to team failings. The now 33-year-old served the national team for a long time, his durability as impressive as his records. In those 120 appearances, though, aside of the landmarks, there is a lack of defining moments (positive ones, at least). Rooney never had his Beckham against Greece free-kick, he never had his Owen against Argentina wonder goal.

A lot of that was out of his hands. Injuries and dysfunctional teams limited his effectiveness, particularly as managers could never seem to decide where he slotted into the side best of all. Rooney suffered alongside the Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard midfield mess – he was seldom allowed the freedom that he perhaps needed.

Rooney’s grand goodbye on Thursday might have been over the top for some. There’s plenty to criticise about Rooney’s international career, but he was available for England more than many others and his numbers secure him a place in England’s history. The timing of this, however, was perfect as Southgate’s younger, better England move onto the next chapter.

It might have all been about Rooney, but good performances from Jadon Sancho and Callum Wilson were just another reminder of the bright future of England’s national team. Moving on from the awkwardly named Golden Generation has understandably taken time. Rooney’s night under the arch was a full stop to an era of disappointment.

England’s performances since their World Cup heartbreak have shown that their journey to the semi-final will/should not be the peak of this generation. Southgate might not have players with the reputations of Rooney, Lampard or Gerrard, but he has a lot of talent and a clear plan.

Rooney deserved his big night. His England career, though, could look even more disappointing in a few years if the Three Lions continue on this trajectory.

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‘Farewell’ for Rooney is pathetic

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There was a time when earning an England cap really meant something.

It was the absolute pinnacle of every player’s career, and a responsibility that each took seriously.

The difficulty of consistently finding oneself in the senior set-up was obvious by the lack of players that had managed to amass anywhere close to 100 caps, let alone exceed that number.

In the recent past, the handing out of caps has become more and more contentious, but none more so that the most recent; a 120th appearance for Wayne Rooney, two years after his last game for his country. Continue reading

Rooney departs with no fanfare but history will be kind to his legacy

Wayne Rooney

Farewell, then, Wayne. You will be missed. Or perhaps not. It’s difficult to gauge how well the former Manchester United striker is remembered and liked by fans but whatever side of the debate you sit on, there’s only one incontrovertible conclusion to reach: Wayne Rooney had a good run. The man had a brilliant career in the Premier League, and as time washes away and we’re all turned to dust, history will be kind to his legacy.

In case you haven’t heard, Rooney left Everton this week after signing a three-and-a-half year deal with MLS side D.C. United, bringing to an end his 16-year career in the Premier League. It has been evident that at, 32, Rooney isn’t quite the force of nature he once was. The pace is gone and so is the explosiveness; that ability to bring fire and potent force to a game as he so desired. It’s the reason he was back at Everton last summer in the first place: he was no longer fit for purpose at a club of United’s ambition.

There’s a little sadness here, too. In the middle of a World Cup where Gareth Southgate’s England are winning hearts and putting points on the board, Rooney, a veteran of three largely doomed campaigns, departs quietly from centre stage to the worst side in MLS. It is the same World Cup where Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney’s old mate and six months his senior, is shining brightly with four goals in three games.

But it would be uncharitable to view Rooney’s career solely through the lens of the latter years of his career, especially when the loss of pace is directly related to how he started his playing days like a house on fire. Rooney is not like most 32-year-olds in terms of his playing age. This is the man who took the game by surprise as a stocky 16-year-old with rage in his eyes and an incredible eye for goal. A man who scored a hat trick on his United debut. The goals and numbers bear witness to his greatness. 253 goals in 559 appearances for United, 28 in 118 for Everton and 53 in 119 for England. He is the record goalscorer for United and England, two of the most important institutions in world football. You do not achieve that by being a fraud. When Ronaldo was at his pomp during that glorious 2008/09 season, Rooney was the the dutiful teammate who willfully played out of position numerous times for the greater good.

As Rooney departs with no fanfare to the other side of the Atlantic, it should be remembered that when he was at his best, England had no answer to a player who could make magic happen all the while looking like your next door neighbour.

Mourinho correct to consider Man Utd an improving side

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He may be no stranger to a back-page headline or two, but Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho has been the subject of more debate than usual over the past few months. Whether it’s been a declaration that the Portuguese has “lost his touch”, “lost the dressing room” or whatever else it is supposed to be that he’s misplaced, it could be said that rarely has Mourinho cut such a underwhelming figure on the touchlines.

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VIDEO: Sanchez starts ahead of Walcott’s return to the Emirates

The transfer window has now closed as managers look to implement new players into their respective squads.

To cover some of the latest news and upcoming fixtures, Nicholas Carroll provides this week’s Euro Fantasy League preview.

This week’s Premier League sees Theo Walcott return to the Emirates fresh from scoring a brace midweek while Alexis Sanchez is looking for his second start for Manchester United’s clash at home to Huddersfield.

In La Liga, Atletico Madrid will look to continue their unbeaten run at home against Valencia while in Serie A, Napoli provide significant fantasy potential for their match against last-placed Benevento. Continue reading

La Liga stars set to clash in El Clasico- Video Preview

There’s no Christmas break for fantasy managers so Nicholas Carroll is back with another Euro Fantasy League preview of the weekend’s fixtures. Continue reading

Best Strikers in the Premier League – Week 15

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The Premier League train continued rolling in to the festive period with the latest round of matches, as we saw Big Sam Allardyce take charge of Everton for the first time, Man United beating Arsenal in north London and Man City leaving it late against West Ham. With that said, let’s see which strikers did the best job for their club over the past weekend.

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Is Sergio Aguero the best foreign Striker in the History of the Premier League?

Since the English Premier League kicked off in August 1992, no one has scored more goals than Englishman Alan Shearer. The former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker notched 260 goals in the Premiership. One other player has reached the 200-goal milestone in EPL and he remains active with Everton- Wayne Rooney.

Of the foreigners, former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry remains comfortably on top with 175 league goals. Closest to him is former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie, who currently plays in Turkey, and who has 144 Premier League goals. However, in recent years, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero has been in such prolific form raising the question as to whether he can catch up with Henry and perhaps even surpass him.

In the last 3 seasons, Aguero managed to score 26, 24 and 20 league goals respectively. He is already on 5 goals in just 5 league appearances. So how far can Aguero go? If Aguero keeps scoring at this pace and if he can score at least 20 goals this season and another 20+ goals next campaign, then he can surpass Henry’s record during the 2019-20 season!

That in itself is a remarkable achievement as he is certain to surpass Robin van Persie, barring injury or suspension, in less seasons and certainly in less EPL appearances. If Aguero stays on with City till at least 2020, it is hard to envision him having less goals than former Arsenal hero Henry. The only question is whether he will have played in less or more Premier League matches than Henry while on his quest to overcome the Frenchman as top foreign scorer in the Premiership.

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Regardless of what happens in the next couple of years, City and EPL fans should enjoy watching the Argentine goalscorer as he has proven to be one of the best imports in the history of English football. While he proved to be a quality scorer while with Atletico Madrid, he managed 20 goals in 32 appearances in his last season in Spain, he has become much more prolific in the Premier League.

His career in Spain saw him score 74 goals in 175 league matches but one must keep in mind his first season in La Liga was a tough one due to transition from the Argentine league to Spain. In addition, he was at the tender age of 18 when he made his La Liga debut. He has since gained both experience and confidence over the years.

At 29-years-old, it can be argued Aguero’s best is yet to come as strikers often peak around this age. His record at Manchester City would make any striker envious considering he managed to score 127 goals in just 186 EPL matches!

Will Aguero score over 20 goals this season in the Premiership? Will he surpass Henry during the 2018-19 season, or will he have to wait till the 2019-20 campaign? Only time will answer the questions above and many more about Aguero’s career. In the meantime, why not enjoy his prolific run and appreciate how special of a talent he has turned out to be. Only few can claim to be as good as Aguero has been in the Premier League.

 

EPL Attacker Review – Wonderful Welbeck, Kane the Corker and Blundering Benteke

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If you are a striker who is on the books at Man United, with some first team experience, and a club like Arsenal come along, there is certainly a decision to be made. In the case of Danny Welbeck, it seemed an easy one. Continue reading