Former Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham believes that Wayne Rooney is half the player he used to be.
The 30-year-old, following a catalogue of shameful performances, has been left out of Jose Mourinho’s last three starting line-ups and for the first time since Fergie retired that he was dropped for consecutive games when fit.
Rooney’s omission from the starting XI for the 4-1 win over Leicester was greeted with celebration amongst Man United supporters, illustrating exactly how far the captain has fallen in recent years and speaking on talkSPORT, Sheringham claimed said Rooney is a shadow of the player he once was.
“Without that horrible nastiness, he’s half the player. He has got to ask himself some serious questions. What is it that makes him a great player? For me, that is it.
“If he can get that back, if he can start performing on the edge again, which made him who he was, then I think you’ve still got a player there but I haven’t seen that for the last 18 months to two years.”
“The Wayne Rooney of six or seven years ago was a horrible, nasty man who you didn’t want to play against. That’s not the case at the moment.”
To pinpoint the exact moment where Rooney’s terminal decline began, you have to venture back to March 2010. This was, somewhat ironically, also the exact moment where Rooney’s career was reaching its peak.
Playing away at Bayern Munich, Rooney, 24 at the time, had just netted his 18th goal in 13 games. He was, I remember feeling, unstoppable and then came the moment where the footballing gods collectively decided to attack the striker with every morsel of wrath at their disposal: a twisted ankle in the build up to Bayern’s late injury time winner sent shockwaves of concern against the country. I religiously sat in front of Sky Sports News for the next few days, praying for positive news.
And against the odds, Rooney returned for the second leg, rushed back and given a painkilling injection. United went out that night, to a Bayern side managed by Louis van Gaal of all people, despite taking a 3-0 lead, and Rooney looked out of sorts, muted, and most definitely not 100% fit.
Then came the tumultuous World Cup in South Africa, followed by Rooney’s attempt to engineer a move to Manchester City. Since then, a steady, painful decline has ensued – a decline now registered by football’s mainstream audience.