So farewell, then, Wayne Rooney. As it’s been reported, he will be on his way to Washington DC once he’s used his holidays up. It does seem strange for him to be moving much closer to the only man on this planet more egotistical than Sam Allardyce. Nevertheless, it’s a relief for his second departure to be, while slightly bitter, still not as acrimonious as his first trip down the M62.
They say time and signing bonuses heal all wounds, and so when it was announced the prodigal son was returning, with him grinning next to Duncan Ferguson like a 10 year old mascot, a lot of blues including myself were also sent back to memories of the heady days of early 2000’s Rooney-mania – the dodgy branded merch from the club shop, the signed poster from your dad’s mate who knew his dad, the casual optimism that things would be OK with the boy wonder in tow despite finishing 17th.
However, underneath the heavy nostalgia trip and telling kopites that he can still do a job, there was a bit of concern about the wage – by far the most any player has been given at Everton – and the expectation would come with that. We were more trying to convince ourselves that he would be worth the amount, as a player with still the same vigour of #18 with the skill and experience of #10, and unlike at Man United he would be happy taking the bench on occasion because it was Everton, and he’d be here forever. Even if he was excited to return to his boyhood club, Ultimately Wayne back to Everton for play time. In the end, it was play time we couldn’t afford him.
Though I thought he would eventually return to Everton, before the new money came in I expected that it would have been a lot later in his career – possibly the last year of his career – and he would have had to take an even bigger cut of what he was used to at Old Trafford. He probably would have lasted a lot longer if we didn’t now have a lot more ambition to go with a lot more money, after years of thriftiness. Add to that bringing in two other pricey central midfielders in Sigurdsson and Klaassen for him to compete with. Having one player you must use because of their wage, price or needed experience is one thing – having three vying for the same position is another. It’s quite astonishing to think Koeman and Walsh believed this would work out well – the Three Stooges had better foresight than them last summer.
Having said that, let’s acknowledge that he provided some great moments last season, speckled throughout like diamonds in a turd. The same memories surface in the best/worst moments thread on the forum; his goal in the first game of the season against Stoke was so romantic Hollywood would call it cliché. Then the goal in his next game against eventual champions Man City, a hair’s breadth away from winning and potentially reshaping both of our seasons. The definite penalty against Liverpool giving him his first goal at Anfield in a blue shirt and turning Klopp into a malfunctioning Westworld extra. And of course, the hat-trick against West Ham with the third being a goal of such good quality that Allardyce probably tried to take credit for that as well. It wasn’t voted goal of the season on the League level, but that will surely live longer in the memory alongside the other belters in his career against Arsenal, Newcastle and Man City.
At points, we did have to take the good with the bad – missed penalties, poor performances and the ‘office party’. But despite all that, and the almost inevitable way that this would end, it’s good that one of football’s longest ‘it’s complicated’ relationships now has closure. This time he’ll leave on much fairer terms, and hopefully he can return in the future in a coaching capacity, but for now he wants to keep doing what he knows best – playing football. Best of luck, Wazza.