When Roy Keane made his infamous rant on MUTV about some of his contemporaries not pulling their weight, you can be absolutely certain of one thing – he wasn’t thinking about Wayne Rooney.
Keane had been playing with Rooney for over a year when the captain made comments which ultimately sealed his fate and he soon left Manchester United.
But, if we were able to get some sound bites from Keane about Rooney, we are certain he would wax lyrical.
Because Rooney has been the closest thing that Manchester United have had to the complete player, perhaps since Duncan Edwards.
This is a player who is just a few goals shy of the all time Manchester United goalscoring record set by Bobby Charlton. And, at just 30 years of age, you would imagine that he will ultimately demolish Charlton’s stats.
Because he may not have the dynamism of old, but Rooney still reeks of class and, with the new breed and new manager around him, we are fully expecting an Indian summer for the brilliant Liverpudlian.
But few United fans would have any concerns about playing Rooney at left back, centre midfield or on the right wing. He’s even supposed to be pretty tasty in goal.
Forget any criticisms of the man. He is, quite simply, the most important Manchester United signing in the last 15 years. You could easily argue that the purchase of Rooney was the most pivotal in the entire Premier League era.
Because Manchester United not only benefitted massively from this one-man wrecking machine. But they also deprived their rivals of his services by making that seminal purchase in August 2004.
At the time Jose was coming into Chelsea and they would dominate for two seasons before Manchester United came on strong again. But had Chelsea snapped him up instead, we could easily have been talking about the end of Manchester United’s dominant period a good decade earlier.
It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of Rooney to Manchester United. And he, above all others, deserves all the praise he gets on Wednesday night, when he leads United out against his boyhood club, Everton.
We will leave the last words to Sir Alex Ferguson, who paid this tribute to Wazza on the eve of the game. The Daily Telegraph quotes him a saying:
“He [Rooney] was an exciting signing [in 2004]. It was fairly shortly after I’d got rid of the idea of retiring and changed my mind, and I had to rethink about how we were going to take the club forward.
“Of course there was Cristiano Ronaldo, then there was Rooney, and it was a fantastic period. The two of them were unbelievable.
“Wayne came in as a first-team player right away, even though he was only 18, and he’s gone on to play for Manchester United for 12 years, which is very difficult in the present day.”