Never go back, they say. But ‘they’ didn’t reckon on how ridiculous football would get. The late, great Howard Kendall returned to Everton twice. Kenny Dalglish was tempted back to Liverpool after a decade on the golf course. However, both these legends had won things and brought great times to their respective football clubs in the past. Wayne Rooney? We’re not so sure. By Alan O’Hare.
Bill Kenwright’s Everton would have Wayne Rooney back in a blue shirt before Christmas. Sure, the wages would be balked at, but the persuasive Kenwright would find a way to tempt the Scouser back before you could say “Kai Rooney starts for the Under-23s”.
Let’s have it right, there’s every chance Roberto Martinez or, worse still, David Moyes would be in charge of the blues as we head into Christmas 2016 if the chairman was still making every decision. Don’t forget that Bill’s best mate, Moyes, was allowed to run down his contract and go to Manchester United on a free thanks to Kenwright’s misplaced loyalty. But this isn’t about Kenwright… not really. This, once again, is another plea for the majority shareholder at Goodison Park to stand up and be counted.
Farhad Moshiri has been methodical but meaningful in his contributions to the fortunes of Everton so far. True, the rumoured splashing of the cash has only been hinted at, but he has backed the manager. And it was his decision to bring the manager to Merseyside. Make no mistake, Kenwright would have been happy with Moyes returning or taking a chance on David Unsworth or Duncan Ferguson to attract the column inches. But Moshiri got his man… and then backed his man financially to go and get his men in the shape of backroom staff and an expensive director of football.
Now, Moshiri has to stand firm and not back a nostalgic bid for ex-blue Rooney. The facts are there for all to see, before we get in to any debate: Rooney is past his best, Ross Barkley has a better future, Romelu Lukaku scores more goals and Idrissa Gueye tackles more successfully and passes with more accuracy. Why focus on Ross, Rom’ and the rambunctious midfielder who’s been Koeman’s best signing so far? Because they’re the tangible final destinations for a Rooney return. In the national media circus that passes for football journalism, we’re constantly told that Rooney wants to play deeper and perhaps operate as a ‘number ten’. Now, so far this season (and for the last couple), that’s been Barkley’s domain. True, the manager has expressed concern at the Wavertree lad’s maturity and decision-making, but that proves one thing: he thinks he’s got the ability. Koeman owes Barkley nothing… he’d be out of the picture if he wasn’t good enough. Ask Oumar Niasse. The fact is that Barkley is in the manager’s plans for the future and Rooney isn’t happy playing second fiddle to a young gun now, at Manchester United, so why would he be at Goodison?
The other options? Well, he could return up front. Hey, Rooney hasn’t completely ‘lost it’ and we all know about form being temporary and class being permanent. The problem for Wayne is that Lukaku is once again the blues’ top scorer and only a fool would bet on anything other than another twenty goal season. The last time Rooney hit twenty in a season was nearly half a decade ago. True, as he gets older, he could move fully back into midfield and play in that advanced sweeper role he seems to have decided is his for England. The problem there, is that Gueye has been a revelation in said role this year and has already been talked about as the bargain of the season in the Premier League. Where does that leave a returning Rooney? On the bench….
What would the point of that be for either player or club? Sure, there’d be cameos and perhaps even a goal in the Derby or the last minute of a tight game to bring all those memories flooding back. But, in reality, Rooney’s return would be (at best) one of those modern signings that mean nothing, but meander as magic in the guise of marquee value. Frankly, it would be standing on quicksand and realistically represent millions down the drain. Everton need to be looking forward, not back.
Let’s talk turkey, too, Rooney’s glory days have come at Old Trafford and not Goodison Park. Oh, we all remember the big moments, great goals and the hope he brought the blues, but none of it went anywhere. Think about this, Rooney has never played a European game for Everton. Rumours persist that it was his £30 million sale that stopped EFC from going under back in 2004, but just imagine the riches and perhaps even trophies the club might have collected had he continued his career as a catalyst for Everton… nah, you’re right, that’s just romantic nonsense, isn’t it? A bit like it would be romantic rhetoric to imagine returning to your boyhood beloveds after you’ve spent twelve years as a hero for their rivals up the road, scoring goals, winning leagues, making millions and kissing badges.
Rooney and romance? Do me a favour.
Pic courtesy Soccer Express