By Dave Downie
Several weeks ago, I wrote a piece on how Wayne Rooney would be everything Everton don’t need as they embark on a new era following an unprecedented summer for the club.
I was convinced a return for Rooney after 13-years away would add very little to the team in a playing capacity and would come at both a significant financial cost and at the expense of hindering the progression of the individual he would be replacing.
Whilst both of those things may still come to pass, I think it’s impossible not to be excited about the prospect of England’s record goalscorer pulling on an Everton shirt once again.
If you’ve read or listened to anything I’ve had to say on Everton in the past, you’ll know I’m somewhat of a cynic when it comes to, well, pretty much anything. Such has been the long suffering plight of the club for more than two decades, I’m an Evertonian that finds it hard to embrace the usual traits you’ll see from others.
I find it hard to get on board with everything from “The People’s Club,” to the “We are chosen” rhetoric. In fact, I find them insufferable at times despite appreciating their brand values and why others choose to immerse themselves in it. I’d much rather prefer we got on with the task of bringing some much needed success back to Goodison – then I’ll go along with as many cheesy slogans and poems that anyone cares to think of.
I’ve harked on over the years about how sentiment is almost like a debilitating infection with Everton. I came across Duncan Ferguson’s famous quote yesterday on Grand Old Team in regards to Romelu Lukaku’s move to Man United: “Stay at this club as long as you can because there is only one way after leaving this club, and that is down.” A fantastic quote from the big man, but I doubt Rooney himself would agree and neither would a host of former players who’ve gone on to win trophies after leaving the club in the Premier League years.
And that’s what it should always be about – winning trophies. I don’t think any of us can say that’s always been the case for the baron 22-years we’ve all suffered.
Now it is.
So where does Wayne Rooney fit into this and why have I changed my mind?
Here comes a massive contradiction, because I’m about to wax lyrical in the most sentimental of ways – *please excuse the Bill Kenwright-esque hyperbole that’s to follow.
If you watch Rooney’s departure from Finch Farm after completing his medical and the look on his face as he stopped to sign autographs, there’s a moment where he smiles cheekily towards the group of fans huddled at his car. Right then and only then was I taken back to being a 15-year old kid at Goodison waiting for David Moyes to summon the 16-year old from the bench.
That feeling was everything to me back then. It represented a hope I’d never felt in my youthful years as an Evertonian. Just the sense of that feeling was one I’d forgotten until this summer and yesterday brought back everything I experienced sitting at the back of the Lower Bullens as he whipped that shot past David Seaman.
Of course, it may all end in tears. Rooney may barely feature for Everton – that’s something to be judged by Ronald Koeman and the player’s own desire and fitness. But for right now, he represents that wonderful hope once again.
I can’t begin to imagine the opening day of the season against Stoke and the atmosphere his return will generate, and that’s without considering the list of new talent that will line-up alongside him.
I still have considerable reservations about his ability to influence games and of course, he’s not going to be anywhere near the player that’s won every trophy there is to win.
But the difference between the Everton Rooney left as a boy and returns to as a man is immeasurable as well. There’s no reason why he can’t be a part of that in the twilight of his career.
So for now, I’m just going to enjoy a player I remember so fondly, returning to my club.
Let’s see what’s next.
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