Manchester United had just won last season’s FA Cup when Coleen Rooney approached Louis van Gaal and said something which suggested that a penny had dropped very late in her husband’s football development. “I want to thank you for giving him responsibility. It’s made him live better,” she said. The evidence of the past six weeks tells us that Rooney grew up and saw the light too late. Dropped from the Manchester United and England teams in the space of 18 days, he seems to be at crossroad. However, he was the soul of Manchester United and England till the latest developments. In 2009–10, Rooney was awarded the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year. He has won the Premier League Player of the Month award five times, a record only bettered by Steven Gerrard. He came fifth in the vote for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or and was named in the FIFPro World 11 for 2011. Rooney has won the Goal of the Season award by the BBC’s Match of the Day poll on three occasions, with his bicycle kick against rivals Manchester City winning the Premier League Goal of the 20 Seasons award. He has scored 197 goals for Manchester United and 53 goals for his national team. Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney should consider yoga and cryotherapy to prolong his career, according to Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe. Rooney, 30, has come under pressure in recent weeks following a perceived dip in form. “Is age an irrelevance? 100 percent. Ryan Giggs [who made his last Manchester United appearance at age 40] showed that. It was well documented the things he was doing, like yoga and pilates. Teddy Sheringham played until he was 40. I think Les Ferdinand was 38.”I just think, if you do it right, if you look after yourself like I always have then you shouldn’t have a problem,” said Defoe. “It’s unbelievable [the criticism of Rooney]. People obviously forget what he’s done and how much football he’s played. Look at his record — the highest goalscorer — it’s a little bit harsh in my opinion. Obviously there comes a point in a player’s career where you can’t get to the same level that you’ve been at before — and you set such high standards it’s hard to be the same. But people can’t forget what he’s done and the amount of goals he’s scored, not only for England but for Man United as well,” he added. “At one stage, he was the wonder-boy playing for his country and now people are getting frustrated and the phones are burning. But he’s one of the best talents England have ever produced. It’s harsh. I’d say get him in the cryo! He’s 30 and some of the things he’s achieved in the game are unbelievable. He’s a goalscorer and when he gets the chances he can finish and he can create goals as well. But I’m not the manager of Man United or England,” Defoe said. If we talk about his performance in the ongoing season of the English Premier League, mediocre is the word which comes to mind.

He has been asked to play as attacking midfielder but his diminishing accuracy of passes has led to many problems. The ball is not reaching the right player and this is why Manchester United has suffered after starting brilliantly in the league. A shocking display in the 3-1 defeat to Watford was enough to convince Jose Mourinho that a change was required to improve on the proceedings. Instead of Wayne Rooney, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata were appointed with their preferred advanced midfield roles in the next match against Leicester City and the result was for everyone to see. The red brigade thumped the reigning champions 4-1. If this was not enough as an eye opener, his performance against Malta in English colors was another example of his pathetic display. He created just one single goal scoring opportunity that too after completing 133 passes in the game which reflects Rooney’s alarming dip in form. His dynamic performance is the thing of past now and there seems to be no change even after lot of matches. Out of action on both front, its perfect time for Wayne Rooney to examine his current position.

With both form and age not on his side, it is possible that his career for England and Manchester United is over until he comes up with something really surprising. His habit of taking on officials every time a decision goes against him is enough to prove that he is not enjoying football at the moment. Gareth Southgate, the interim manager of England, has realized that by keeping Wayne Rooney in the playing XI, he is jeopardizing England’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup in 2018. In order to put back the campaign on right track, he has dropped the star player. To make matter worse for Rooney, the new manager has appointed Jordan Henderson as captain of the national side.

Henderson was clambering on board the flight which carried England from Luton to Ljubljana when Southgate sidled up and informed him that he would be skipper against Slovenia. “What stood out for me is that he has taken over as captain at a club where he has succeeded one of the most iconic players in English footballers of all time,” said Southgate. “That would have been a difficult challenge for him. He has matured from that. He has shown great leadership skills with his club. He is used to being captain which is important. He has a voice and an opinion within this group. He has his clear ideas of what we need to work on. A good tactical understanding. “Again, it was not an easy decision because there are other senior players in that dressing room, but he has captained a big football club and is used to that responsibility so it is the right decision for me,” he added. Even Rooney backed the decision. “I think Jordan’s a fantastic leader,” said Rooney. “He’s took an incredibly difficult job from Steven Gerrard and he’s really grown into that position. He’s a fantastic player with great leadership qualities. He deserves his chance to captain England. I’m sure for him a really proud moment and his family,” he added. A short break from football and an extended session at the training ground would do a world of good for Rooney. Apart from this, he need all the backing from the managers as he can still contribute as a player. However, if it is not done, we might see an abrupt end to a career, which was full of goals, trophies and memories for Manchester United.

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