Fairytale Unfulfilled – Rooney's Second Farewell Would Suit All Parties

It seems as though this Sunday’s game at the London Stadium could be Wayne Rooney’s last competitive match in an Everton jersey. He would leave the Blues again with an air of unfulfilled promise

Lyndon Lloyd 10/05/2018 40comments  |  Jump to last

It’s being reported with varying degrees of certainty but it seems as though this Sunday’s game at the London Stadium could be Wayne Rooney’s last competitive match in an Everton jersey.

According to some reports, a deal has been in agreed in principle with Major League Soccer that will see the 32-year-old join DC United when their transfer window opens on 10th July.

It would bring the curtain down on an Everton career that has bookended incredible success at Manchester United but which never reached the heights that his form as a head-turning teenager — or, indeed, his accomplishments at Old Trafford — suggested it should. Seemingly destined to become a Toffees legend, his time with the club he grew up idolising and still supports to this day now looks likely to end in an air of unfulfilled promise.

Bringing Rooney back last summer was a questionable decision at the outset. As was argued by many at the time, he was deemed surplus to requirements in a United side that finished just one place above Everton last year. If the Blues’ sights were trained on the same top four challenge as the Red Devils then surely the same ruthless attitude towards a fading star should have prevailed at Goodison Park?

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Sentiment seemed to win out but in any case, as it turned out, the two clubs’ fortunes diverged once more this season, with United on course to finish second behind neighbours Manchester City with guaranteed Champions League qualification and Everton drifting in behind Burnley in eighth having had to turn to Sam Allardyce to stabilise a campaign that derailed spectacularly after an encouraging start.

To his credit, Rooney was the most effective outfield member of a team whose confidence collapsed between September and November, even if there were serious concerns over a recruitment policy that overloaded his position with three supposedly high-profile signings.

Deployed initially as a No.10, Rooney scored twice in his first two games back in Royal Blue and looked to have dispelled doubts over the wisdom of bringing him back at the tail end of his career. He would go on to notch another nine in all competitions, including a memorable hat-trick against West Ham United in David Unsworth’s last match in charge, but at the time that Everton reached their nadir at Southampton, Rooney was a mere spectator as an unused substitute on the bench.

It was emblematic of the conundrum he had become at Goodison, not least because of his profile and the enormous salary he commands despite having taken a 50% pay cut to return to Goodison. How were he and Gylfi Sigurdsson — and Davy Klaassen, for that matter — supposed to operate in the same team when they both prefer to operate in a central role behind the striker?

Compromises were made to shoehorn both players into the side, largely at the expense of the club’s record signing, even after Allardyce was appointed but, ultimately, Rooney’s ageing legs and his diminished effectiveness as a striker saw him drop back into the deeper-lying role many observers of the England team envisioned for him.

Unfortunately — and mystifyingly, it has to be said — the move exposed his limitations as a play-maker capable of dictating play sitting in front of the back four. When he should have been enjoying the Pirlo phase of his career, using all his experience and talent to stroke the ball around and keep play moving in Everton’s midfield, all too often his distribution was found wanting. Passes were frequently mis-placed or overhit. As was the case while England wilted at Euro2016 he lacked leadership ability and, at times, self control. And with his new role making him less able to influence matters in the penalty area, his goals and assists dried up.

His last goal came against Swansea in mid-December and yet he remains Everton’s top scorer for the season and there is no question that without his prowess in front of goal, the Blues would be significantly worse off in terms of league position.

In that sense, his acquisition wasn’t a waste but it has by no means been a success either. Paradoxically, he has contributed meaningfully to a lost campaign — with his treble against the Hammers and his third goal in particular, he delivered perhaps some of the only true moments of the season that will be memorable for the right reasons — while also being a huge source of frustration.

Going forward, regardless of who is in charge of the Blues next season, it has been made abundantly clear that Rooney isn’t the player Everton should be building a team around. A bit-part, impact option from the bench, maybe, but not the fulcrum of what will hopefully be a side rebuilt to a degree over the close season.

Will that be enough for Wayne at this stage of his career when he can follow the footsteps of other Premier League stars who have made the switch to the MLS in the twilight of their career? Probably not.

In returning to Everton, Rooney has satisfied his curiosity and removed a ”what if” from his trophy-laden career. Coming back to his beloved club hasn’t worked out the way he probably envisaged and if he had dreams of being the vital cog in a rejuvenated Toffees team crashing their way into the top four, it’s unlikely to pan out that way next season either if he stays.

For those reasons, it makes complete sense that he take the chance now to try his hand in America and that Everton seize the chance to remould around Sigurdsson and sign younger, more productive focal points of their attack to play around him. For all parties concerned, it’s time to embrace change and move forward.

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Reader Comments (40)

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Jim Wilson
1 Posted 10/05/2018 at 19:59:55
Wayne's main problem has been the shite management.
Played out of position all season, by hideous management, he still managed to score vital goals, when we were in big trouble, that have kept us up (make no mistake).
We have been short of class up front all season but incredibly he has been used in midfield and while showing moments of class this is clearly not his strongest position. He is a forward and should have been played as one. Only Everton could fail to tap into a world class talent. It's criminal.
Brian Williams
2 Posted 10/05/2018 at 20:02:01
As long as that embracing of change and moving forward means that Allardyce is out the door too I'll be happy.

I wonder though whether Wayne's stance comes from a realisation that he himself can see he's no longer the player he was and that be's no longer able to do the things he used to do with ease.

Could it be that he doesn't want to detiorate further at the club he loves but would rather see out his playing days out of the Premiership spotlight and not be looked upon with a touch of pity?

Just a thought because he must know himself how often he's given the ball away and lost posession, must know that he can no longer do what he wants to do, and that must be SO frustrating.

Whatever he decides I wish him well and thank him for the goals he's scored this season and most of all for one of his signed match shirts which I will always treasure.

Seb Niemand
3 Posted 10/05/2018 at 20:19:59
I can't help but feel he has been cruelly cheated out of making the true contribution he could have and of the swansong he has earned. And it is a tragedy that that fat sack of shit they gave the keys to the club to gets to gloat over his.
Tony Everan
4 Posted 10/05/2018 at 21:14:50
The time is right for him to go.

The decline was well set in during his last two seasons in a Man Utd shirt. It was at the stage where he couldn’t get a game for the Red Devil’s.

The return to his spiritual home was supposed to spark a new lease of life . Whilst all the desire is there, it just falls short in the ultra competitive environment of the premiership. Too slow and lacking sharpness to lead the line as CF and not a natural born midfielder.

If we are really getting 12m it is good business. For him prob Dc Utd and us.

The experiment didn’t really work, a few fizzes and puffs came out if the conical flask then it petered out.

I think overall he is well liked and respected by most fans and would be welcomed back as a coach.

James Hopper
5 Posted 10/05/2018 at 21:27:29
I don’t really care either way whether he stays or goes. I’m a lot more interested in what can be read into his decision and whether it indicates that Allardyce is set to stay or go.
Andy Crooks
6 Posted 10/05/2018 at 21:40:15
James, I fear it means Allardyce is staying. I really believe he will. Which will be unthinkable and, for me, untenable.
Lawrence Green
7 Posted 10/05/2018 at 21:53:42
David Maddock in the Mirror seems to think that if Allardyce remains in his job at Goodison, Wayne will leave Everton, however, if Sam goes there's a chance Wayne will stay.

Moshiri seems to have accepted the direction of his current manager, which is why he gave the player permission to speak to clubs. But there are other senior figures within the boardroom who are keen on keeping the player’s vast experience... and his connection with the fans.

The board are set to meet next week, and Moshiri will be urged to act decisively and offer a clear direction on the club’s future.

Rooney or Allardyce?

Tony Everan
8 Posted 10/05/2018 at 22:37:46
I refuse to believe for one second that Allardyce will be manager next season. It is unthinkable the board will be diametrically opposed to the massive majority of the fans.

The antipathy is beyond the point where Moshiri can keep him on, even if he wanted to. Which I doubt.

It would cause a fault line through the club like which I never seen at Everton. Surely Moshiri has to strive for unity, even the effort to do so would deserve credit.

It’s all blather anyway .He will be gone with a cheque and a thank you after the West Ham match.

Gavin Johnson
9 Posted 10/05/2018 at 23:07:05
Lawrence, I saw the story in the Mirror and it's a believable scenario but, on the other hand, is a new manager going to want Wayne Rooney?! I'm not so sure. I think he'll be going no matter who's managing us next season
Rob Dolby
10 Posted 10/05/2018 at 23:18:34
I would rather Rooney stay and become player manager.

John Raftery
11 Posted 10/05/2018 at 23:35:57
His legs had gone before he came back. At his best Wayne played the game instinctively like a street footballer, fast, combative and desperate to win. He was never suited to a Pirlo role and one could sense his frustration at not being able to get up and down the pitch in the way he could at his peak.

That he was surrounded this season by team mates also lacking pace as well as quality just added to his frustration, making it even less likely he could dictate play from a deep position except against the weaker teams.

John Boon
12 Posted 10/05/2018 at 00:03:18
I don't think he has been able to maintain a suitable fitness level. To me this is likely due to the fact that he still likes to enjoy himself outside of the game. There are plenty of examples of top class dedicated players who were able to play at a top level at the same age or older than Rooney. Ronaldo, David Silva, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes are just a few examples. I am sure readers could mention many more.

Also, despite what Allardyce might like to think, Rooney's body language alone would indicate that he doesn't like playing for him and he has regressed significantly since Senile Sam came to save Everton. At the other end of the scale I hope Allardyce doesn't drive younger players away from our club. I am thinking of Lookman as one example.

Derek Thomas
13 Posted 11/05/2018 at 00:31:12
So it comes down to Rooney vs Allardyce... one's not going to get any better, and one couldn't be any worse.

The head decision says —both!

What's best for Everton? The key is to get rid of Allardyce; compared to that, Rooney is just a minor problem, nowhere near the top of the list... which, coincidently, starts at the top.

The 'Pre-Fab 4' Allardyce, Kenwright, Walsh and Elstone. Then the lower ranks.

I could see Moshiri liking from an accounting point of view, pay off Sam £6M, save £7.5M on Rooney's wages, and bring in £12.5M... there's the new guy funded for 3 years plus some change.


Phil Lewis
14 Posted 10/05/2018 at 00:41:30
I rejoiced at the 'Prodigal' son's return, convinced that if indeed 'Old Father Time' had finally caught up with him, then fresh limbs provided by younger emerging stars around him would surely compensate for Wayne's fading body, much in the same way Cantona had previously been supported so well by the 'Class of '93!' at Man Utd.

Well, it simply hasn't transpired apart from the random flashes of brilliance that have already been stated, and now it seems finally time for Wayne to move on for good from EFC. There ought not to be sentiment in professional football, so good luck to you, Wayne, in what could possibly be your 'swansong' and the best career move for all concerned. Only supreme athletes who have nurtured their bodies to the highest levels could hope to continue to perform into their late thirties.

Accordingly, I can't help but feel that Rooney's continued presence is actually hindering Tom Davies's and other youngsters' progress. Furthermore, I do not want to witness the continuing decline of one of Britain's all-time greats. He'll be heading 'Way Out West' instead of way out 'The Western' for the 'Last Round-up'!! Players such as Davies, who has frankly has gone downhill this season (and also a few others), could easily get their careers back on track in the absence of Wayne.

John McGimpsey
15 Posted 11/05/2018 at 07:14:31
Phil, Wayne with one leg is and always will be better than Davies. A poor man's Cleverley.

If Gravy Tits goes, I hope Rooney reconsiders and stays. Without those goals we would be fucked... and not one since Fat Arse arrived.

Tony Marsh
16 Posted 11/05/2018 at 07:38:58
Rooney's legs have gone, aged 32 years old. Tom Davies has no pace so will never be a top player at this level. Let's just hope Wayne is the last man off the Old Boys conveyor belt. I am sick to death of the "jobs for the boys" mentality at this club. Wayne is hopefully the last in a long list of failed returnees.

One of the reasons we were told Wayne would be an asset on his return was the PR coup and the worldwide exposure he would bring to the club. Well, that didn't happen, did it? Let this be a lesson to us all. Once a player is gone, let them be gone.

Craig Walker
17 Posted 11/05/2018 at 08:06:09
Disappointed it didn’t work out. That goal away at Man City seems a very long time ago. There were brief glimpses and good moments like the penalty at Anfield when we were battered but robbed a point. His goal tally would have been higher but he missed was it 3 penalties? I’m glad he came back even if it didn’t work out. His transfer to United made me feel sick and he was the best player on the pitch when they knocked us out of the FA cup semi final under Martinez.

I hope he does well in the US and doesn’t end up like Gazza when football is no longer a part of his life.

Jim Bennings
18 Posted 11/05/2018 at 08:19:17
Sad to see him go but perhaps understandable.

My concern is Rooney is still top scorer despite only having 10 goals and not scoring this year yet still being by far and away our leading goal scorer!

Regardless whether Rooney stays or not we badly need to address the lack of goals across the midfield from wide to central areas.

Ian Burns
19 Posted 11/05/2018 at 10:04:01
Great article Lyndon but I can't get that feeling out of my bones that he has suffered through rank bad management this season. First an overload of number 10's and I just wonder if he should have been employed higher up the pitch in a team playing with a little confidence in their manager and with more of an attacking intent.

However, I suppose it is time for him to move on, que sera and all that.

Pat Kelly
20 Posted 11/05/2018 at 10:26:23
Rooney chose to make his career at Utd. Why Everton decided to let him draw his pension at Goodison is beyond me.
Bobby Mallon
21 Posted 11/05/2018 at 10:32:07
I'm not in the Rooney out mob. All those negative comments, well he is our top goal scorer,second in assists most shots, and involved in more goals than any other player. This from a player who has been played out of position. We as a club need to keep him and play him alongside Tosun in a 442 and watch us go. We also need a left back and two center midfielders and a center half.
Ray Roche
22 Posted 11/05/2018 at 10:34:45
Pat, to be fair, Rooney has won the Champions League, five Premier League titles, the FA Cup once and the League Cup three times. He's also near the top of the Sunday Times Rich List for sports people. What would he have had if he'd have stayed, apart from a deep sense of "What might have been"? Especially considering the troupe of Baboons that have been running this zoo.
I don't blame him for leaving but I do blame the Chief Baboon for bringing him back.
Bobby Mallon
23 Posted 11/05/2018 at 10:43:12
This is my take on Big Sam. I want him to stay and here is my reasoning. I would rather give him a season where he gets us to mid table security and maybe higher and if its still turgid horrible football then get rid ( but we will be safe). I don't want a scenario where a new manager comes in, makes to many changes and he is got rid of at Xmas because we are in a relegation scenario again. Tin Hat applied.
Bobby Mallon
24 Posted 11/05/2018 at 10:45:25
When I say mid table security I mean by Christmas.
Jim Wilson
25 Posted 11/05/2018 at 11:08:37
Tony Marsh - Rooney's legs have gone. I agree.
That's what makes it even more ridiculous to have played him in midfield where you need to cover ground all game.
He should have been played up front, told to run his socks off, knock in some goals, and when knackered brought off to be replaced by the raw Niasse who can then exploit tiring defenders. So obvious it's unbelievable.
Never in a million years should he have been wasted in midfield,
Terry Underwood
26 Posted 11/05/2018 at 11:29:43
Regardless of him staying or going, how can we not love a man who loves us so much? Good luck to "Roonaldo" — whatever the future holds.
Liam Reilly
27 Posted 11/05/2018 at 11:48:57
I thought it was folly to bring him back but some of the criticism is a little harsh.

He's lost possession a lot but only by trying to make things happen. Take him out of the middle and we've no one that looks to pass forward. It's easy to have your pass completed stats at 90% if you on pass sideways or backwards.

Wish him well of he goes.

Rudi Coote
28 Posted 11/05/2018 at 14:09:34
A damn shame.
Christopher Timmins
29 Posted 11/05/2018 at 14:13:58
I was one of those who did not want his return as his final two years in Manchester were not a success, however, if he decides to leave I wish him well. His return while maybe not a total success has not been a total disaster and compared to some of the other signings, it has been a success.

William Gall
30 Posted 11/05/2018 at 15:19:58
Rooney has not been as good as a lot of us expected, but has not been as bad as a lot people say he was. As has been said, the goals he scored helped us finish in the position we are in. My own personal opinion is that he will stay if S.A. (good bye ) goes, and he will be a good ambassador for the club in trying to get in better quality players than what we have.

I believe Rooney thinks his future may be more in the coaching field, and as I would not advocate for any more old boys to be hired as coaches, he could still be used as a player while studying for his coaching badge. If as a great number of supporters believe we have a difficult rebuilding process from the last couple of seasons, a player with his experience could prove to be useful.

Jay Harris
31 Posted 11/05/2018 at 15:46:04
Rooney has brought this situation on himself with all his boozing and smoking.

He was warned by Ferguson years ago to change his lifestyle or put his career in jeopardy. He chose the latter.

While he has supreme technical skill the brain and the legs are no longer up to premiership standards. I don't blame him for wanting to come back but at 150k a week when our highest earner was about 70k a week and a reputed 15m reduction in Lukakus fee was a nonsensical decision by the ex Corrie actor.

Trevor Lynes
32 Posted 11/05/2018 at 15:49:55
I did not want Rooney back as I along with quite a few others am heartily sick of EFC being seen as a dumping ground for United's surplus stock. Just look at the debris we have accommodated ; Gibson, Neville, Howard, Saha, Schneiderlin and now Rooney. All of the above were either past their best or just a waste of space. None of the above would have been taken by any other top club in the Premier League.

We let Rooney leave before he had reached his best and took him back after he was drained. Saha had been top quality but was a crock when he joined us. All these players were needed 'off' the payroll at United.

United have had Rooney at his best, Fellaini when he still had years left in him and now Lukaku who had carried our attack. They must have stifled laughing out loud at the business they have done with us. I find it embarrassing as an Evertonian with the joke motto we are supposed to live up to. We should have insisted on a player exchange for Lukaku or no deal. Rashford plus money IMO would have been decent business.

If United would not bite then we should have sold Lukaku to Chelsea with Willian as the player exchange. This greedy club of ours took the money and wasted it on mediocre midfielders and one decent goalkeeper. I was calling for a player exchange deal before Lukaku left us as I knew that the money would not suffice.

We now have no one to sell of any real worth and I have grave doubts that this board will stump up the money to overhaul this squad.

Justin Doone
33 Posted 11/05/2018 at 16:01:43
I was happy to see him in blue. A world class player with a winning mentality. Considering the poor team and the season he's mostly played well and is one the few senior players this season I can say positive things about. Oh what could have been..

I'm in-different to him staying or going believing (stupidly) we would replace him with another top class player. His reputation as 'a big name' player had put Everton in the spotlight.

Unfortunately we have not produced the results or a style that could have helped make the most from the additional focus. Sadly the poor results and negative football seemed to somehow be blamed on him by some fans, sports writers.

He's the one Everton player non football fans can name. I'm sure he's helped sell a lot of shirts and with a positive manager he could thrive. He's always needed the love and encouragement to be involved and produce his best.

Or he could leave a we get Yaya and the debate do we play him in defence or midfield? Midfield for me. Whilst on purely self made rumours I've heard Wenger say he can't name the Premier league team he's been approached by because they currently have a manager. Could it be us??

Mike Gaynes
34 Posted 11/05/2018 at 16:10:56
The third goal of that hat trick, the 60-yard missile over Hart, will remain as cherished a memory for me as his spectacular first goal to end Arsenal's unbeaten streak. I still remember the announcer yelling, "Remember the name, Wayne Rooney!"

But I also remember than one of his first acts after returning to us was getting arrested for drink driving at three times the legal limit (and publicly cheating, or attempting to cheat, on his wife), which demonstrated his inability to commit to maximum excellence, professionally or personally. He never even considered staying away from the good times to perform at his best possible level for us and reignite his career. John Boon is correct that Wayne's decline is Wayne's own fault.

And Rob #10, sorry but Rooney isn't remotely manager material. John #11 is spot on that he's an instinctive player, never a thoughtful or strategic one, and he has shown few signs of real leadership on the pitch this season.

It's time. Good luck to him in DC or wherever.

Pat Kelly
35 Posted 11/05/2018 at 16:50:44
Ray #22 I totally agree. He's had a stellar career at Utd that Everton couldn't offer him. He made the right decision moving there. We made the wrong decision taking him back.
Jack Convery
36 Posted 11/05/2018 at 21:22:16
Moshiri wants Everton in the Premier League at all costs. Allardyce has proved to him he can do that. Everton stay in the Premier League
whilst the new stadium is built. EFC is then sold at a profit.

Moshiri is a businessman – businessmen don't count trophies, they count money. If we get in the Champions League, then the more money and the more valuable the club... and the bigger the profit when he sells up.

He is not one of us and never will be. We wouldn't put up with Fat Sam – my fear is Moshiri will want to protect his investment so far. Oh and don't forget the loan he made to EFC – he hasn't... you can count on it.

Wayne approaching the USA tells me he knows Fat Sam is staying – god help us all. Good luck to Wayne – another Blue who had to go away to get his medals. What a disgrace EFC has become since the 80s.

Tony Everan
37 Posted 11/05/2018 at 22:37:31
If Big Sam is staying, I'm off to the USA too. May join a cult over there or see if an Amish family will adopt me in Ohio.
Ian Hollingworth
38 Posted 12/05/2018 at 20:18:34
It makes me laugh that fans assume it is unthinkable that Sam could stay.
This is Everton with BK as chairman, trust me do not be surprised by anything.
As fans we failed miserably last weekend to show our feelings so we can’t really complain whatever the outcome, but we will.
Tom Dodds
39 Posted 13/05/2018 at 05:41:40
Trevor (#32),
The eye of the needle post of where we still are now after the re-emergence of 'That' past.

Aka – "Out with the new, and in with the old"

Viva a summer of revolution!

Ernie Baywood
40 Posted 13/05/2018 at 08:12:26
I never bought into 'the homecoming'. That wasn't a good enough reason to bring him back. The story never added up either - it's not like he held out on signing a new contract so that he could give his last good years to us; he signed the contract and then engineered a move when it suited him and United.

But... I did think he would be able to contribute. A worthwhile signing in his own right.

That he couldn't do that speaks in part to his decline. I also think it points to just how poor we've been. In the early part of the season he showed enough - in the Stoke game he was levels above anyone else on the pitch. But this is a season where we didn't play to anyone's strengths. We threw him in midfield with players who don't complement him (or cover for his lack of legs).

I think he's got a right to be disappointed that the Everton he returned to hasn't improved from the Everton he left. Still a mess. And with that, does anyone begrudge him the decision he made given the success he's had?

For us, I don't think Rooney endures as anything other than someone who did well somewhere else - those who didn't experience his early rise in blue will forget him quickly. How stagnant this club is should be the greater story.

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