After 13 years at Old Trafford Wayne Rooney has returned to boy-hood club and will once again be an Everton player. After all his years of loyal service to Manchester United and winning everything on offer he will go down as a club legend but the time to leave was right as his influence with the Red Devils feigned away.
So how can the United’s record goal scorer for both England and Manchester United reinvent himself to be a success at the club where he first made his name?
Having been the captain of Manchester United and England, Rooney brings with him a certain leadership that every manager needs. Although the captainly band will not be handed over to him but will be a major influence in the dressing room for the players who might be struggling with confidence, form or settling into the side.
As stated, Rooney has been there and done it all. From being there as 22-year-old when the Red Devils had to pull through against Chelsea in Moscow (2008) to help his side lift the F.A Cup in 2016 with a captain’s performance, the Liverpool born has the ability to drag his side over the line to glory.
Rooney with his know-how of winning trophies can help Everton end trophy drought if Ronald Koeman and co are to break the hoodoo anytime soon.
When Jose Mourinho arrived at Manchester United last season he said the England man will play as a number 10; his main striker. However, judging by the way he was deployed, Rooney could no longer be trusted to be the man that bagged 20+ goals in a season anymore. The last time he managed to achieve that feat was back in 2011-12 season the Red Devils were chanced to the league title by arch-rivals Manchester City.
The firepower is no longer there but under Louis Van Gaal, Rooney in a slightly deeper role was a menace. Take for example the F.A Cup final where he dropped into “the hole” and weaved past three Crystal Palace defenders then dug out a cross which found Marouane Fellaini who in turn teed up Juan Mata to score the equaliser at Wembley. Rooney should look back at that for inspiration but Koeman should allow him that freedom to help dictate the play rather than be relied upon for his goals.
Experience for the younger players
Although Rooney brings leadership to the side in a holistic approach, he also brings the experience of growing up as a footballer in this modern era. He is no angel and he will be the first to admit it having appeared on media front pages for all the wrong reasons. However, he has fought back time and time again from these setbacks to become a better footballer as well as a better man.
The Englishman will be a major influence on the next bunch of talented footballers coming through at Everton. Especially the likes of Tom Davies, Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. All attacking players having the chance to play with England’s all-time record goal scorer. It will be a huge opportunity for them and they need to welcome it with open arms.
Accept he is not the main man anymore
Rooney has to accept that he is not number one anymore. He may have moved to Everton for more first team opportunities and that is the right thing to do as they will be more forthcoming than they would at Old Trafford but he will have to accept he will not the first player on the Toffees team sheet anymore.
Managers in the past have tried to force him into unnatural positions just because he is Wayne Rooney but that cannot be the case anymore.
Koeman knows he has a player who lovs the club, who is always hungry for more and who will be disappointed not to pay. That means he will have to manager him in a different way than he might approach others. Rooney will more than likely need put an arm round his shoulder and tell him how important he is to the side; which he will be.
Improve his first touch
When he burst onto the scene in 2002 he was unbelievable and that was all raw talent bursting out of him. His goal for Everton against Arsenal summed up how much of a quality player he was and still is.
His first touch to delicately pluck the ball out of the air, alongside the quick turn away from the defenders to put Lauren and Sol Campbell on the back foot matched with the composure he showed to take a few strides forward curling the ball into the top corner past the England number one at the time was simply sublime.
However, if you compare him with players of similar age especially his former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo you will see a stark contrast. Whilst the Englishman’s first touch and pace is deserting him, his former teammate is still one of the best players in the world attracting glamorous offers from all around the world.
Rooney does not seem to have the elite mentality that Ronaldo has. Now, I am not saying he is not committed to improving but we can all see that he has experienced a decline whilst his Portuguese counterpart has grown from strength to strength.
There is work for him to do at Everton and he should not take anything for granted as he eagerly anticipates his full debut.
He has the ability to prove to Gareth Southgate that he can get back into the England squad and come close to the heights that he once hit playing for Manchester United.