Obviously, Manchester would love to have the Portuguese winger cutting up and down the field with the Red Devil crest on his chest, but Wayne Rooney has done his part to make that pipe dream ever more irrelevant.
First it was Hull. Then Manchester City. And this past weekend, Arsenal.
Ever since breaking his big-game duck against AC Milan three seasons ago, Wayne has steadily progressed into the potential once-in-a-generation English talent that the hometown rags touted him to be upon his debut as a 16-year-old Evertonian.
Currently, he’s assumed the task of carrying a United squad lacking little else in terms of world-class talent—a 36-year-old Ryan Giggs or the always enigmatic Nani at best fill the shoes of capable number two. And help probably won’t arrive anytime soon given the club’s crippling debt. Yet Manchester, going into the League Cup final, is still hovering near the top of the EPL.
With 20 league goals midway through the season, he’s bagged more now than he’s ever had in a full season. This isn’t a number merely padded due to the absence of Carlos Tévez and Ronaldo pushing him closer to goal and placing the goal scoring onus squarely upon him. As his four goals against Hull last week show (regardless of the level of opposition)—penalty-area rebounds and first-chance finishes—Rooney’s developing the kind of clinical end product once exhibited on the regular by his ol’ strike partner, poacher extraordinaire Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Midweek against Man City in a testy affair, Rooney opened the scoring with a pinpoint crossfield ball to Ryan Giggs, and then sealed victory in the dying minutes with a right-place, right-time header. And against title contenders Arsenal, Wayne notched his 100th league goal with another precise finish from a counter-attack he himself launched. The boy passes, scores and relentlessly tracks back on D (like a bat out of hell) more than some defenders *cough* Sergio Ramos *cough*. An unconventional #10 to say the least.
In current form, Wayne has few peers as an almost one-man show. Except perhaps across town in a certain Mr. Tévez. The two won a CL together. Now let’s see what happens individually. As the number one for Manchester and England, my money’s on brighter things beckoning for the former.
In other news…
Egypt earned its third consecutive African Cup of Nations with a late 1-0 win over Ghana. The Black Stars fought valiantly despite missing big names (Essien, Muntari) due to injury, relying on their U-20 World Cup winning youngsters instead. In light of a disappointing show by Ivory Coast in the tourney, Ghana should be the ones holding it down for Africa come World Cup time.
Togo’s been (unfairly) banned from the 2012 and 2014 editions of the African Cup of Nations due to the convoluted mess surrounding their tragic departure from this year’s tournament. Politics as usual.
And the sometimes-genius of Guti from this past weekend: