One of the biggest enigmas in English football is as to why Wayne Rooney never seems to get the respect he patently deserves.
He is two goals shy of being his countries greatest-ever goal-scorer, and needs just seventeen to over-take the record for most strikes at Manchester United. In most other countries he would be a national hero.
Bizarrely much of the criticism directed at Rooney comes from among those who support the Red Devils. Football forums are inundated with fans happy to write-off the player whom currently occupies third on their all-time scorers chart
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Many have refused to forgive his infamous flirtation with deadly rivals Manchester City five-years ago. They point to his £300,000-a-week salary as proof that he is a mercenary-at-heart. Whilst conveniently over-looking the fact that he has given the club eleven years of loyal service.
When his current contract ends he will have been at the club for fifteen years. To put that into perspective, that is two years longer than Eric Cantona and David Beckham's United careers, combined.
In the media, for the past three weeks, Rooney has been under intense scrutiny. Critics have come out in force to herald his demise. He´s over-the-hill, lost his ability to deliver on the biggest stage and is a shadow of his former-self, they cried.
Wayne's hat-trick in Europe's premier competition was a timely riposte to those criticisms. Yes it was the qualifying-round, and yes it was against a Brugge side missing five first-team regulars, but, they were three well-taken goals that proved that he had lost none of the attributes that have made him one of the biggest names in football.
There are those who doubt Rooney´s credentials as a truly world-class player. A common misconception is that he does not score enough goals. In the last five seasons he has managed to score 99 goals.
Between 2004-2014 only four players scored more goals across Europe´s top leagues and competitions than Wazza.
Yes, last season saw his worst return in a red shirt, but that was due in part to Van Gaal's insistence on moving him around like a chess piece for the first half of the season to accommodate Van Persie and Falcao. His 14 goals was as many as the combined total that pair managed.
It is true that he has started this season sluggishly, but to suggest he is not fit to lead the line for his club is rash. He has managed 16 in his last 27, in that same role for his country.
When provided with proper service, as he was against Brugge, he demonstrated that none of his natural goal-scoring ability has been blunted. All bodes well for a season which should see him claim both of Charlton´s long-standing records.
Manchester United fans, are you confident Rooney can lead the line for the Red Devils this season? Have your say below!
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