With the return of Wayne Rooney imminent, much has been said and opinions are somewhat divided as to him coming ‘home’.
There’s no need to dwell on the reasons why he left for Manchester United all those years ago, it happened, it’s water under the bridge and we’re looking to the future.
Some will no doubt refer to his infamous ‘kissing the United badge’ but again, he did it to stick it to the boo-boys and it’s water under the bridge, let’s move on.
Let’s deal with the emotional sentimentality of Rooney ‘coming home’.
If that is the premise behind this transfer, then the premise is wrong !!
Football now has very little room for emotional sentimentality because a. there’s too much money involved and b. and more importantly, Everton are back on the trophy and glory trail. There’s no room for sentimentality on the playing field.
There can be no denying that Wayne Rooney is the wrong side of thirty and his absolute magical best days are probably behind him.
Before we switch back to this being a sentimental deal though, let’s just look at how recent times at Old Trafford have hardly worked in his favour.
When Alex Ferguson retired, he knew full well that the United team was in need of an overhaul but incredulously, he anointed David Moyes as his chosen successor and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that he was woefully wrong for that role.
Under Moyes they stumbled like a Friday night drunkard and he bit the dust.
Enter Louis Van Gaal and he didn’t exactly rip up trees in the biggest job in British football either. Yes, he won an FA Cup, but within minutes, allegedly, was told his time was up.
Enter Jose Mourinho and again, whilst trophies were won, United were massively boring to watch and almost mechanical in their (lack of) style last season.
So four years of poor or stuttering management at Old Trafford (for which the rest of us were and are grateful) saw Wayne Rooney suffer a loss of form, a few injuries and having to cope with the ignominy of being dropped from the team.
Couple this domestic uncertainty with losing his England place, despite being both the countries and Uniteds’ leading scorer, and Rooney could, arguably, therefore be excused for losing a bit of interest and focus.
To his credit, he hasn’t whined about losing nailed-on, first name on the teamsheet status, but it must hurt that four years of indifferent, at times rudderless management has affected his career.
So when Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh both said last season that if he became available Everton would be interested, his own imagination of a return ‘home’ was surely heightened.
Koeman and Walsh will have thought long and hard about exactly what role Rooney could play… the premise for making the transfer happen.
He’s a winner.
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
He’s a marvellous footballing brain, the game comes naturally to him.
He’s been there, done it, won it – he knows better than anyone in our squad what it takes to get the job done.
Koeman and Walsh have made some terrific signings and Everton look massively better already.
Pickford in goal, Keane in the centre of defence, Klaassen in midfield and Ramirez up front, they’ve installed a whole new potential spine through the team.
Youth, exuberance and no shortage of pace.
What Koeman and Walsh needed to add, and I believe this is the reason Wayne Rooney looked attractive to them, is a playmaker, in US parlance, a quarterback.
Someone who has vision, someone who can pick a pass and make things happen, someone with an eye for goal, someone who can drive the team with purpose.
From his perspective, Wayne Rooney needed an incentive, a new purpose to his career.
Sure, he could have taken the ridiculous money probably offered by clubs in China or even the USA, but Rooney would be utterly wasted in both those countries.
Where better to regain purpose than back where it all began – Everton.
A few years ago, he did an interview for Everton TV and the over-riding feeling came across that despite all the trophies, glory and money he was winning and making at Old Trafford, there was still a sense of ‘unfinished business’ in his mind.
His very being in a blue shirt will make other teams sit up and take even greater notice of Everton next season and as to the ‘unfinished business’, well here I will get emotionally sentimental…
Imagine the reaction and scenes were the “once a Blue, always a Blue” sadly turned red Wayne Rooney to score a derby winner… OMG !!!!
Imagine a thirty-yarder hurtling into the top corner or a ricochet off his backside at either the Street End or the Kop… would we really care how he scores it ???
More importantly though is that Everton win, it’s not and shouldn’t be about Rooney scoring, that would be the cherry on the cake.
One thing I am certain of is this, if/when Wayne Rooney dons the Royal Blue again and crosses the white line to play for Everton, he’s the last one that Ronald Koeman will need to worry about in terms of motivation.
Rooney has seen his career somewhat stall in the last four seasons and at 31, his mercurial best may be behind him.
But the chance to redeem himself in the eyes of Evertonians and prove to all the doubters and media that he’s not finished is just the kind of incentive he needs to roll back a few of the years and help spur Everton towards where we and he wants us to be.