From “best player in the world”, as stated by many top players, and managers, to an injury ravaged shadow of his former self – Wayne Rooney made his first appearance for Manchester United today against Wigan, a little over a month after holding the club to ransom and accusing them of “lack of ambition”.
And what a month is has been for Rooney – from floundering by a swimming pool in Dubai, before being shipped off to the USA to improve his fitness, he hasn’t even had to kick a football competitively, but has still managed earned a cool £1million, under the terms of his new contract. Manchester United have been loaded to the hilt with a ticking time bomb of debt, by the Glazer family, yet Wayne Rooney was rewarded with a new five-year contract, as well as becoming the highest paid player in the clubs history.
When Rooney signed his new money-spinning contract, Sir Alex Ferguson stated: “Wayne has apologised to me and the players,” before going on to say: “He will also do so with the supporters.” That apology has yet to come.
Obviously, it seems to be a case of forgive and forget from the supporters as today, Rooney came on as a second half substitute, replacing Federico Macheda just before the hour make, to a rather generous applause from the Old Trafford crowd. Certainly, many would have expected a much cooler reception, but to me, it sounded as if cheers out-rang rather than boos. Although, it has to be said, Rooney was chosen to be brought on at the same time as Paul Scholes, a clever substitution on Fergie’s part.
Coming on against Wigan, who were reduced to nine men when Rooney was on the field, constituted as his opportunity to show his money’s worth. Sadly, he didn’t. His one chance, a header from a Rafael de Silva cross, was tipped over the bar by Ali al-Habsi.
Does this mean that all is forgiven? As far as I am concerned, the jury is still out. A little over a year ago, Wayne Rooney had the world at his feet, however, then came that night in Munich. Since then it has been a downward spiral, in both Rooney’s public and private life. He is still horrendously out of form; he had a disastrous World Cup, tabloid revelations about his private life, coupled the fact he hasn’t scored in open play for over eight months. Hardly what you would call a blip?
For now, Wayne Rooney is back. But he still has it all to prove. Again.