By Kieran McGough
After a day of Sky Sports invading USM Finch farm, it came as no surprise to myself and likely many other Evertonian’s when the inevitable question of a Rooney return reared its ugly head. This topic has been debated for a few years now and in almost every single transfer window, whispers of a Rooney return are present. However, more recently it feels as if there is a clear division amongst the fan base as to whether acquiring Wayne would improve the club or more importantly move us forward, namely competing for top honours year upon year.
I’m 20 years old, meaning when Rooney left I was only 8 however the images of it unfolding on my living room television are clear in my mind. On that day, seeing him go broke my heart especially since at the time I was unable to comprehend any off-the-pitch reasons for his departure. Everyone knows the goal against Arsenal in the park end, shift inside and curled beyond Seaman into the top corner alongside a classic commentator tagline ‘Remember the name Wayne Rooney’. In a sense, we all have.
Wayne left Everton as an 18-year-old ‘prospect’, even though everyone knew he was destined for greatness, and should he return to Everton in the summer he would come back as a 31-year-old who has achieved all club honours available to him. However, the only question that needs answering is would he really improve our starting XI, since for the wages necessary he would surely be granted first-team status.
Wayne has played close to 750 games already, with 320 goals to match according to his own personal website. The reason I use personal website is to point out how Wayne is not simply a player anymore, he has been built into a brand which is likely why he remains a Manchester United player. One of Nike’s biggest athletes and being plastered across Asian and American markets has seen him catapulted into international stardom well beyond merely the footballing demographic. This dimension must be considered alongside his playing abilities because Moshiri’s efforts to build a global brand with multiple income streams, makes big names a necessity. It is difficult to separate the two since more income, means more money, means more spend, means more players, means better team. In theory… However, signing a player ultimately on the decline may be a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
Koeman and Walsh answered but didn’t confirm when asked about signing Wayne, a common method for responding to awkward questions. However, both did not reject the idea. Koeman believes Wayne still possesses the talents that led him to become leading all-time England and Manchester United goal scorer. Walsh believes Rooney is ‘one of the greatest players ever’ while also stating that ‘we could sell a lot of shirts’. These words seem to reiterate my previous point of how the Rooney question seems to end up focusing on sentimental values and marketing, as opposed to ability or current form.
Personally, I think the boat with a place for Rooney to return has sailed. Wayne is undoubtedly still a fantastic footballer and is above many others in the premier league. However, right now at 31 and with so many games under his belt, I do not think the ‘prodigal son’ returning would help us move forward as a club. This coupled with Koeman’s aggressive tactics to press, leaves me inclined to reject the move even if my 8-year-old self is screaming for his hero to return. My dad has always said ‘He’ll be back one day’, let’s just hope it’s as a coach in 5 years and not our summer marquee signing.