Wayne Rooney makes his return to Manchester United on Sunday, the first time he’ll be on the opposing side at Old Trafford since 2004.
This summer’s transfer window saw the ex-England caption return to his boyhood club of Everton. It was his time at Goodison Park that announced him to the world and attracted the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson.
There can be little doubting that his United career fizzled out in recent years and perhaps his Everton return was timely. Nevertheless, fans can only hold him fondly in bowing out as their all-time top scorer.
It’s an opinion reflected by Jose Mourinho who hopes the 31-year-old is given a legend’s welcome at the Theatre of Dreams.
The Special One explained: “I think he’ll get the welcome he deserves. Sometimes the word legend comes too easily but he’s a real legend of the club.”
How will he treat the United fans if he scores, though?
It’s a debate that has emerged in the days running up to his return and Ryan Giggs has even had his say on the matter. The Welshman believes Rooney should celebrate regardless of his 13-years of service.
In terms of predicting how Rooney will act, however, isn’t the easiest with the Englishman’s two-club career providing limited evidence.
Nevertheless, Rooney’s first goal against Everton after his Manchester United move is the closest indicator we have and it was certainly unexpected.
Having failed to score on his first return to Goodison Park, the 31-year-old had a second chance to strike on Merseyside on the opening day of the 2005-06 campaign.
Ruud van Nistelrooy opened the scoring for the Red Devils before, early in the second half; Rooney put the game to bed. Pouncing upon a terrible Joseph Yobo back pass, the young United star slotted home under Nigel Martyn.
And how did he treat the club he’d spent eight years in the youth ranks of? By celebrating as wildly as a last minute winner.
Skip to 0:30 to check it out below:
Rooney kept a straight face while breezing towards the corner flag in a knee-slide but couldn’t help letting out a passionate shout as he came to a halt.
Not celebrating against an old side is certainly a sign of courtesy even if doing the opposite isn’t strictly a sign of disrespect. However, it’s fair to say the celebration looks odd when you consider Rooney left just a year previously.
This is a man who claims to have still worn Everton pajamas during his Manchester United spell, after all.
So don’t expect too much courtesy on Sunday, Red Devils fans or perhaps age will deem Rooney a little less excitable if he does find the net.
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