As Manchester United look towards their next match, both them and their opponents, Everton, are in different respective forms than when the Reds throttled the Merseyside team 4-0 early in the season. One man who has regained his goal scoring form for Everton just happens to be a United legend: Wayne Rooney.
Rooney’s departure from United to return to his boyhood club was bittersweet for many fans. He was a hero to an entire generation of United supporters, and,despite his last few years of form in a United shirt being squandered by poor management he managed to finally break Sir Bobby Charlton’s long standing record as the club’s all-time top goal scorer. Some have argued recently that his return to form raises questions about the decision to sell and pay out for Romelu Lukaku, whose tally mirrors Rooney’s.
Was it the right choice?
Of course it was.
Wayne Rooney’s time at United needed to end. His return to his boyhood club allows him to finish his career leading a team at the top level of English football, where he belongs. His next target, Alan Shearer’s Premier League goal scoring record, seems like a long shot, but he has a better chance of breaking it at Everton than at United.
As for United, Rooney’s departure not only frees a spot in the first team for budding talent, and room in the budget for new signings, but it also allows them to further move on from the past, something that has been a burden on managers, players, and fans.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s career already seemed insurmountable in his time, but in this age of football where managers move around every 1-2 seasons it seems impossible for anyone to come close to his achievements. Yes, multiple teams have won the treble in the past decade, but how many clubs keep their managers on for extended periods? What manager will win 38 trophies at one club?
But even though Ferguson had left the dressing room, his players remained to face an uncertain future under new leadership.
By the start of Mourinho’s tenure Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick were the only remaining members of the legendary 2008 team. Even now as Carrick is the only one left, his injuries and declining form make it seem as though his United career will soon end as well. Though they have been invaluable as leaders at United, their presence reminds everyone of Sir Alex’s shadow.
As United prepare to visit an old friend to kick-off their new year, they should not look back over their shoulder. Mourinho has assembled a squad for the future, and the future is the only place United can go.