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09th Jul 2017

It’s obvious how Wayne Rooney’s transfer to Everton will go

This isn't going to end well

Robert Redmond

This won’t end well.

Wayne Rooney’s move back to Everton has been confirmed and fans of the club, as well as most in the media, seem delighted.

Manchester United fans are also happy to see Rooney amicably depart. He had won every trophy, became the club’s record scorer and United saw the best years of the player signed from Everton in 2004.

It’s understandable that Rooney would welcome a return to his boyhood club. He remained an Everton supporter despite his 13 years at Old Trafford. Playing for Ronald Koeman’s side also allows him to stay at home in England and have a better chance of first-team football in a very good team. In theory, it’s always a nice story for a player to return home to his first club and finish his career.

However, it’s difficult to see how Everton benefit from the transfer. They have been the most proactive Premier League team in the transfer window so far this summer, signing Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaasen and Sandro Ramirez.

They have also been strongly linked with a move for Gylfi Sigurdsson. Koeman is building a team that will hope to try break into the top four, which won’t be an easy task.

How does Wayne Rooney, a player in terminal decline, help them achieve this aim?

Rooney has been on the wane for about four years, and especially so in the last two years. His first-touch has completely deserted him, he doesn’t have the stamina to get through games and the goals have completely dried up.

Back in 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson wrote:

“Wayne had a gift for producing great moments in games. In my final year, when he was left out a few times, and replaced in games, I felt he was
struggling to get by people and had lost some of his old thrust. But he was capable of making extraordinary contributions. That pass to Van Persie in the win over Aston Villa that secured the title for us was marvellous, as was his overhead kick against Man City. Those flashes guaranteed his profile. But as time wore on, I felt he struggled more and more to do it for 90 minutes, and he seemed to tire in games.”

Ferguson recognised Rooney’s decline in 2012 – five years ago. The former United manager also knew that, as time went on, the brilliant contributions, like that lofted pass to Robin van Persie when the club won the league in 2013, would become more infrequent, while his physical condition would continue to decline.

It’s a clich√© at this point, but Rooney’s an old 31. In fact, in football terms he’s about 35 going on 36, rather than a few months away from being 32. He has been playing top level football since he was 16, and has clocked up over 700 games for club and country. That’s an awful lot of football, especially for a player who isn’t exactly known for treating his body as a temple.

Jose Mourinho knew Rooney was finished as a top level player last season. Ferguson knew it before he retired, and evidence suggests he would have sold the player had he remained as manager. Just last month, at Michael Carrick’s testimonial, Ferguson joked that Rooney was to run the channels. Some of former United players in the dressing room openly laughed at the suggestion.

It’s surprising that Koeman hasn’t recognised Rooney’s decline, or maybe he has and thinks he can rejuvenate the player. However, last season Rooney had from September to May to regain his place for United, and didn’t come close to doing so. Since then he’s lost the England captaincy and can’t even get into the squad.

Those propagating the grand narrative will tell you Rooney will be reborn at Goodison Park, he’ll relish the chance to be a leader at his boyhood club and will help guide the young players around him. But this is bullshit which bears no relation to the reality of the situation.

He’s incapable of being an effective striker or number 10, because his first touch is gone and he can’t run by players anymore. Do you remember when people were saying he could play in midfield? Rooney has spent most of the last two years on the pitch shouting at referees, before mishitting simple passes and failing to control the ball.

The talk of him being a positive effect on younger players also makes no sense. How beneficial will Rooney be to Tom Davies if he starts ahead of him?¬†Four footballers from England’s U-20 World Cup winning team play for Everton. How will an aging, once-great footballer playing ahead of them, or misplacing passes to them, benefit their development?

The same people celebrating Rooney’s transfer will be the ones asking in a few months why young English players don’t get a chance in the Premier League.

Some might say Rooney will ‘be good in the dressing room’. However, this is probably the biggest back handed compliment one can give to a player, and it’s not enough of a reason to make someone the highest paid player at the club.

Rooney was a great player, and he will be remembered as such. When he left Everton in 2004, he was the most exciting teenage footballer in the world after excelling at Euro 2004. He has won every trophy possible, and is the record goalscorer for England and Manchester United. These are incredible feats that no-one can ever take from Rooney.

However, by the same token, the fact is now, in July 2017, Rooney is in terminal decline and only going to get worse. It’s difficult to see how he can improve Everton.