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(and, if so, where has he been?)

Is Wayne Rooney back to what passes as his best nowadays? Having scored a couple against Newcastle and now the winner against Liverpool, United fans could be forgiven for thinking that he is on the way back.

The truth is probably that he isn’t! At 30 years of age he has certainly lost some of the pace he never really had and watching him push the ball past players then resort to shoving them when he can’t outrun them is, frankly, quite embarrassing.

He has been tried in a deeper position at United at the expense of players who are better in the role and, with the exception of a decent range of passes, he brings little to the table in this position. The other problem with this is the fact that United already have more than enough midfielders.

He kept his place in the team for many weeks due to van Gaal’s illogical reasoning that “the captain doesn’t get dropped”. So, for quite a large part of the season, United effectively played with ten men. Yes, he was THAT bad!

Now he has found his shooting boots again he can, deservedly, be picked to play upfront, either alongside Martial in a 4-4-2 or on his own in a 4-2-3-1.

This should not stop Manchester United making the signing of a world class striker a priority. Rooney’s age is now against him but also there is the fact that, when he loses form, it is such a dramatic downturn that, assuming van Gaal isn’t there next season, another manager would not pick him in the starting eleven, captain or not!

Over the years Rooney has been lucky at Old Trafford. Every time he has had a grievance, mostly for no reason other than his own greed, United have responded by giving him a new contract worth more money than the previous one. By rights he should have been sold on at least two occasions and the fans would have been quite happy, at the time, to see the back of him. Even Sir Alex Ferguson has said that if he had still been in charge he would have sold him.

As a player he has never really fulfilled the potential he showed all those years ago when he scored against Arsenal. There have been the all-too occasional flash of brilliance but, over the course of his long career he has been a disappointment when you consider what was expected of him. He has been better than a lot of players but nowhere near as good as some.

Of course people will point to his scoring records at United but again, when you are a striker at one club for so long, there is something seriously wrong if you aren’t breaking records. Here is an article I wrote a while back which covers his exploits, (or lack of them).

I would like to think that Rooney has a couple of good years left in him at the top level. From a personal point of view, I would prefer those years to be elsewhere.

He has, for example, always expressed his undying love for Everton. This is understandable as he is an Evertonian at heart, so I would quite like to see him show just how much he loves them by going back there and helping them to qualify for Europe occasionally and maybe win the FA Cup.

I think this would be a very fitting end to his career in England before he chases even more money in the land of opportunity that is the USA. A couple of years over there until he is maybe 35 or 36, when he can retire gracefully from the playing side and take up coaching.

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