It’s no secret that Wayne Rooney’s time at Manchester United was up. And it wasn’t just his dip in Premier League minutes (1,538 last season, the first time he’s failed to clip the 2,000-minute mark since his debut season with Everton in 2002-03) that made it obvious. At 31 years old (32 in October), Rooney has clearly lost a step. He doesn’t score like he used to. He doesn’t create like he was once capable of. But at Manchester United, he became a legend in every sense of the word. It’s a word that gets thrown around much too often, but Rooney has undeniably earned that distinction.
It’s just that sometimes, you need to move on. Sometimes, you have to go back home.
Rooney isn’t yet at the point when Major League Soccer should come into play. Perhaps he never should be. And why entertain offers from China when you can stay in the Premier League—with your first-ever team, no less? Storybook endings, no matter how often we attempt to force them, don’t typically come about as seamlessly as this transition did. While there was chatter surrounding Rooney and an Everton reunion, it never got out of hand. It never turned into a parody of itself. As such, that’s pretty neat. In a way, it’s even heartwarming.
Look I can be cynical with the best of ’em, but there’s no need to waste that energy here. For the majority of the past 13 years, Rooney had a hand in haunting fans of every other PL club. He would enjoy top-scoring honors only once but also capture five English titles. Yet his achievements weren’t just exclusive to the Premier League. Rooney also took home a Champions League crown, one FA Cup and four English League Cups. And just this past season, he added a Europa League title to his impressive resume. All as a Red Devil.
Let’s just say you could do a helluva lot worse.
Now with Everton, I don’t know where he’ll fit. Moreover, I don’t know how much of an on-field impact he’ll even have. But as a personality, as someone who can help mentor the younger talents the Toffees boast? Rooney should certainly play a part in that regard. With Romelu Lukaku heading the other way, Rooney’s going to get more minutes. He’s going to get more opportunities.
And maybe, just maybe—he’s going to be able to end his PL career on his own terms. If nothing else, there’s something to be said for that.