Saturday, 7 January 2017

[SPORT NEWS]Wayne Rooney is not ready to reflect on his records - he's still hungry for success with club and country

 It felt almost ceremonial. Wayne Rooney Day, a day hand-picked for the long-awaited moment.

Compliant opposition, no Zlatan to get in the way, none of that messing around in midfield.

Now help yourself, Wayne, because you might not get a look-in when the serious business of the Premier League resumes.

He only half-did the job but it was still a bit special.

In his seat, Sir Bobby Charlton smiled, everyone else stood, Rooney grinned, glassy-eyed over a rare mass display of public affection.

Reflection began no sooner had his right knee deflected him level with Sir Bobby.
Reflection on the 249 goals, reflection on a fabulous career.

And when he has finally absorbed the acclaim, soaked up the torrent of tributes, that is what might bother Rooney. That many see it as some sort of end-game.

Looking back, most see greatness. Looking forward, most see China.

This is a player who believes he can still be the sort of dominant force that blew through English football for more than a decade.

A player who believes he still deserves the armband for club and country.

A player not ready for reflection.

After all, he does not turn 32 until October, by which time Ibrahimovic will be 36.

Yet aside from the scruffy goal of significance, there was no indisputable evidence to suggest the undroppable days will return.

He would probably fancy breaking the record against Liverpool at Old Trafford next Sunday but there is a good chance he will not start that match.
Hull at home in the League Cup on Tuesday is more realistic.
But while this was no throwback to the terrorising days when he had no hair, there was enough to encourage him in his belief he can defy the common perception that his powers are on the wane.
The goal was not a thing of beauty, diverting Juan Mata's chip, but he was always a threat in the area where he belongs ... the final third.
Of those 249 goals, 213 have come from inside the area (191 with his right foot, 27 with his left foot, 30 with his head and now one with his right knee).
He belongs upfront.

The long-term future, of course, belongs to Marcus Rashford, who, with the help of a comical Ali Al Habsi moment, helped himself to a couple, and to Anthony Martial whose finish was crisp enough after some serious Reading aversion to tackling.
For now, though, and for when he takes record ownership outright, Rooney - beneath that desire to remind all of his continuing worth - can at least allow himself a moment to bask in deserved praise.
He has parity at the top of United's scoring list 215 matches and four seasons ahead of Charlton's schedule.
He has not just been a great goalscorer, he has been a scorer of great goals.
Remember the smashed volley against Newcastle in 2005, pausing from giving referee Neale Barry pelters to blast it in from 30 yards?
Or the overhead shinner in the Manchester derby in 2011?
Even those of us who do think Rooney's relevance is diminishing can do nothing but salute a marvellous career, a stunning contribution to the game.
And as soon as he has completed history-making formalities, there will be only one thing on his mind.
To prove it is no sort of finale, to prove there is much more to come.

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