Matt’s Monologue: Where did the explosive Rooney go?

I don’t know if any of you caught it earlier last week, but I thought the BBC’s documentary on Wayne Rooney on Monday was absolutely fascinating.

To shortly describe how it was formatted, they profiled the Manchester United striker after he became England’s all time leading goalscorer.

Gary Lineker anchored the show, with interviewees including Rooney’s family, Steven Gerrard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sven-Goran Eriksson.

It is very rare that a player, especially of his profile, opens the door into his life. Of course, it could have gone more in depth, but it gave you a flavour of what the England ‘skipper is like, who he is and what he does with his spare time.

And to be honest, he came across as an extremely down to earth young man who’s life centres completely around his family. He is clearly shy and quite withdrawn (who would not be after the way the media have pursued him in the past), but also somebody who just loves football.

This is a lad who has been a huge success in his career. He’s scored a phenomenal amount of goals at every level he has played at and worn numerous medals at club level…

…So you should see his trophy room! It was incredible! Numerous mementos from up and down the years, including signed kit and photos.

My favourite item though had to be a signed England shirt that was rotating on a pole in a class case, like one of those rotisserie chickens you see in Tesco!

The thing I enjoyed about the programme most though was not only seeing what kind of humble upbringing Rooney has come from (proving that if you have the right family support behind you, drive and a bit of talent to boot, anyone can make it), but also reminiscing about how good he used to be.

It is when you watch goals like that amazing striker against Arsenal, or the sheer brilliance of the goal at Leeds when he was with Everton that you realise what a raw talent he was, and indeed is.

When he burst on the scene, the whole country was excited. And he did not just produce at club level, but for England too.

Remember his first tournament, Euro 2004? Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side could genuinely have won that if he didn’t pick up an injury in the quarter final against Portugal.

He was electric, in pace and also what he could produce with the ball at his feet.

So what happened? Because he does not seem to be the same player any more. That desire and hunger is still there of course, but the little bit of magic he was capable of when it comes to goalscoring, the sheer instinct of scoring wonder goals seems to have waned off.

I wonder if Sir Alex Ferguson coached that brilliance out of him. When he was no longer the main man in the team, like with Everton or England, he had to be more responsible.

Cristiano Ronaldo was there to pass the ball to, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and company too. It was not just his job to net a 35-yard screamer.

Of course we still see some of them. Just not as much as we would all like to.

Maybe it’s all part of growing up? Becoming a more experienced and older player whilst wearing the captain’s armband comes with it’s duties. Perhaps he doesn’t feel he should be going for goal from distance when there are arguably better options anymore.

Either way, although he has not quite produced it at club level this season, he is still a fantastic player, as shown by how many goals he has scored for club and country.

But I am not sure watching Rooney now is quite as breathtaking as it was a decade ago.


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