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John Laverty

Wayne Rooney has staggering Manchester United record but fans won't forget him trying to cop off with City

John Laverty


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Whose side are you on: Wayne Rooney cuts a dejected figure against Manchester United last week

Whose side are you on: Wayne Rooney cuts a dejected figure against Manchester United last week

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The sensational overhead kick against Man City that actually came off Rooney's shin

The sensational overhead kick against Man City that actually came off Rooney's shin

Whose side are you on: Wayne Rooney cuts a dejected figure against Manchester United last week

I've no love for Wayne Rooney, even though he's the all-time record goalscorer at the club I support.

Indeed, you'd be hard pressed to find a United fan who'd put the Scouser on their top-10 list of favourite Red Devils. He wouldn't even make it into my top-25.

It wasn't always the case. When United announced in 2009 that they'd sold one of their best players to Real Madrid for a world record fee, most of us were relieved it was Ronni and not Roo.

That's how popular the phenomenal young Englishman was back then.

Everything changed, though, in 2010 when Rooney, just short of his 25th birthday and reigning Footballer of the Year, attempted to take advantage of United's relative parsimony under the Glazers' ownership and agitate for a move across town to nouveau riche Manchester City.

We couldn't believe it; our star player jumping into bed with... the noisy neighbour?

Fidelity had clearly not been a virtue for the Croxteth native in his private life, but this? In football terms, the ultimate betrayal!

A repentant Rooney eventually agreed to stay after his ironically-surnamed agent Paul Stretford negotiated the most lucrative pay deal in Manchester United's history.

This time there was more anger than relief.

The upstart who had cited his employers' supposedly limited ambition when it came to shelling out big money was happy to trouser a large percentage of the club's already stretched coffers for himself.

The wounds never really healed - especially where United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was concerned - even though Rooney continued to do the business on the pitch.

He attempted to leave the club again - for Chelsea - in 2013, but this latest insurgence produced a laissez-faire attitude from directors and fans alike.

A bit player under Jose Mourinho, he eventually returned to Everton - 13 years after leaving them as a precocious £27m teenager - in the summer of 2017.

Rooney's record at United is remarkable, and befitting legend status: 253 goals in 559 games, five Premier League titles and a Champions League triumph, as well as Europa League and FA Cup winner's medals.

Us Rooney-haters remain churlish about it, though; yes, he scored four more goals than Sir Bobby Charlton - in around 200 fewer appearances - but Bobby was more an attacking midfielder than an out-and-out striker for an inconsistent United team that didn't dominate English football the way Fergie's sides ended up doing.

And don't quote Rooney's England record to me vis-a-vis World Cup winner Bobby's; the latter didn't have the luxury of scoring in countless friendlies against near-useless opposition.

We're even quick to point out that Rooney's most memorable goal - that supposedly redemptive overhead kick in 2011 against a City team he'd attempted to join months earlier - came off his shin and, but for outrageous fortune, could have ended up in the stand.

(My favourite Roo strike, incidentally, is that astonishing volley against Newcastle in 2005 - scored while he was, simultaneously, nursing a dead leg and arguing with the referee.)

But you know most of this already, so why am I bringing it up again? Well, because Rooney, who was back in the spotlight last week with Derby facing United in the FA Cup, uttered something that I could actually applaud.

When asked if he'd celebrate if he hit the onion bag against his old pals, the now 35-year-old replied: "of course," adding: "Obviously, as a Derby player I want United to lose."

Thank goodness a (still) high-profile, influential footballer is attempting to buck the annoying trend of not celebrating goals against former clubs "out of respect".

Sorry, guys, but it's blatantly disrespectful to your current employers, and their supporters, to desist.

And it's moot anyway, because all your delighted team-mates will jump on top of you.

The practice isn't particularly novel either - Denis Law was tearful after scoring THAT goal against about-to-be-relegated United in 1974 - but it has become de rigueur in the modern era.

Daniel Sturridge hit the finest goal of his career for Liverpool against Chelsea two years ago but went all sullen after his dipping 30-yard screamer hit the back of the net.

Where was the trademark wobbly Sturridge dance, Danny?

You played 60-odd games over four seasons at Chelsea, who were more than happy to offload you when Liverpool came calling; what exactly did you feel you owed them?

Cristiano Ronaldo was equally subdued after his goal for Real Madrid in 2013 knocked United out of the Champions League - and, effectively, convinced Fergie it was time to retire - but he's a genuine club legend and that's perhaps more understandable.

The day this nonsense jumped the shark, however, was when Dubliner Wes Hoolihan refused to celebrate a goal for Norwich against Aston Villa - a club he had no affiliation with whatsoever, but who had "shown an interest" in signing him a few months earlier. Dear oh dear.

Of course Rooney didn't get to celebrate a goal at Pride Park last week as United cruised into the quarter-finals on the back of a 3-0 win, but he came close on a couple of occasions, playing well enough to almost justify the eye-watering amount of money the Championship club is paying him.

And, 10 years on from 'Citygate', United fans were once again relieved by something Rooney DIDN'T do.

It's the ultimate Olympics showdown: commerce versus coronavirus

You'll know how serious Covid-19 really is when the 2020 Olympics is cancelled.

So far, and despite virtually every other sport being affected in some way or other, there is no suggestion that the Tokyo Games will not go ahead as planned this summer.

Both the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori and the Japanese government insist nothing has changed despite coronavirus threatening to become a pandemic.

The 'greatest show on earth' has been cancelled before, in 1916, 1940 and 1944, for obvious reasons.

It has also been seriously blighted by terrorism, in 1972 and 1996. Spiralling budgets and failed construction deadlines are commonplace.

Hell, it has even been threatened by another nasty virus - the Zika, which famously put paid to Rory McIlroy competing in Rio.

But this? Mmm.

Billions has already been invested in these Games, by the Japanese themselves, sponsors and broadcasters, notwithstanding the time and emotion invested by the athletes.

And the 'minority' sports obviously rely on the quadrennial global Olympic exposure for their lifeblood/financial support.

It's exposure of a different kind that's the problem, however, what with thousands of competitors, countless spectators - and, of course, the good old BBC's own cast of thousands - mingling in a relatively closed area during a worldwide health crisis.

There's no doubt that Japan, which isn't a million miles away from where coronavirus originated, should take the initiative and cancel the Olympics.

It will be catastrophic from a business point of view, but makes sense from virtually every other angle. And what message would the IOC be sending out if they blithely ignored what is becoming accepted protocol?

Multinational corporations' self interest versus mankind's future well-being - you wouldn't want to wager on the outcome of that one.

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