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A STARTER AND AN AFTER DINNER MINT
by Ed Bottomley

So Wayne’s off to MLS. Good luck to him.

Wayne Rooney is a footballing great, more specifically an England great and a Manchester United great. Go on then, let’s use that word: legend. The fact that he isn’t one of the greatest Everton footballers is a reflection of how desperately poor we were, in multiple senses of the word, unable to even hang on to his coattails as he embarked on an amazing upwards trajectory.

He isn’t an Everton legend though. Not when Mark Pembridge has played more times for our great club. Not when he won nothing with us. He left too early and came home too late and was two entirely different players. The young Rooney was a bullish streetfighter, thrust feet first into the football world… He spent his salad days pummelling the pavement with footballs, like a boxer’s fists to a punch bag. All that time invested in his craft produced erudite, educated feet. The streets of Croxteth were his dojo, just as Dixie Dean’s was his local church roof, where he perfected his legendary heading. And Rooney was good. VERY GOOD. Beating a bullet proof Arsenal, running rings around Bolton, helping us win at Elland Road for the first time in a generation. He was an impossibly young chess grand master, the world was at his talented feet. The older Rooney that returned wasn’t that player at all. 

Rooney before and after Xmas:

Before:
Games – 16
Goals – 10
Assists – 2
Chances created – 22
Successful att. third passes pg – 9.3
Recoveries pg – 5.4

After:
Games – 15
Goals – 0
Assists – 0
Chances created – 12
Successful att. third passes pg – 7.7
Recoveries pg – 4.5#EFC

— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) May 8, 2018

He was born a Blue. His kids are Blues. He’ll die a Blue. He loves us, and the rumours are that (this time) he wanted to stay… But here’s the rub. We owe him nothing, and he isn’t an Everton “legend”… Why do people want him back as a coach? Is it because we’re so desperate to squeeze something more out of him, to get something tangible, to buy more time with him? He isn’t the player he once was, and Deloreans don’t travel back through time. And what would coach Rooney say to young stars coming through, looking to him for advice? “Lads, if you want to win something, you need to look elsewhere…” Any other advice would seem hypocritical. 

Yes, Rooney wanted to stay. But he isn’t good enough anymore. Remember when he *was* good enough, a teenage goal-getter with the world at his feet? That Rooney wanted to leave.

To me Rooney represents the most painful dose of reality there is. We bang on about knowing our history, about being blue blooded football nobility, but even the biggest blue left us to win things. And most of us probably would succumb to the lure of lucre and trophies too.

When we look back on his career, Everton will just be bookends. A starter and an after dinner mint. The main course was at Man Utd.

Good luck Wayne, thanks for the memories. Wish there were more.

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @DixiesSixty

1 Comment

Actually you haven’t gone far enough here. We were soft and over-emotional for taking him back in the first place. He’s no blue. He sniffs out money like a pig after truffles.

by S Burman on Jul 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm


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