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Richard Bates - Rooney goal papers over the cracks

Published: 14 Feb 2011 - 09:25:02

After Wayne Rooney's overhead kick soared into Joe Hart's top left-hand corner, I began a hunt for all manner of superlatives to do the goal justice. Having rummaged through several dictionaries, countless thesauruses and an incessant amount of newspaper articles, I can confirm that the search is still on.

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For those of you that somehow haven't seen or heard about it yet, Rooney probably summed it up best himself. Without a second thought, he claimed the strike to be the finest of his career to date, even discounting his audacious dipping volley against Newcastle United at Old Trafford back in 2005.

When you take into account the magnitude of the encounter, you can understand why the 25-year-old spent little time dithering when making the comment in a post-match interview. After all, Rooney's winner didn't just come in any old Manchester derby. No, this was the first time in which United have met City fully aware that their arch rivals are genuine contenders in the Premier League title race.

Despite this, the significance of Rooney's goal has been exaggerated greatly, with some claiming this to be the turning point in a career which has clearly faltered. Having hit the back of the net 34 times last season, he has only managed to score on six occasions during a campaign in which he has largely underperformed. And although his commitment and desire on the pitch have never come into question, the England international’s performance on Saturday was reminiscent of many we witnessed during the World Cup last summer.

As his touch and judgement deserted him, Rooney cut a frustrated figure. It's a sight that has become all-too familiar throughout this term. The former Everton man took until New Year's Day before scoring his first goal of the season from open play, and it has only been in recent displays against West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City and Aston Villa that Rooney has shown glimpses of potentially rediscovering his outstanding form of a year ago.

Whether off-the-field problems have been responsible for Rooney's below-par showings, only he actually knows. Coinciding with his barren spell, the extremely tedious and very public contract wrangle which took place during October certainly tarnished his glowing reputation amongst a large contingent of United supporters.

Yet having produced one of the most athletic, well-timed and magical footballing masterpieces in recent memory against City, Rooney has certainly gone some way to renewing the faith of the Red Devils fans he so desperately owes.

Form is temporary, class is permanent. Now, he owes it to himself to bring to an end such a miserable run, by reminding us all of why he has been consistently touted as one of the world's top players.

Follow me on Twitter @richardbates_89

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Richard Bates
Richard Bates is a clued-up, forthright and candid football writer. Every Monday, he’ll be devoting his Football.co.uk column inches to the most talked-about Premier League issues. A West Ham United season-ticket holder, Rich has been accused in the past of having a somewhat blinkered perspective when it comes to his beloved Hammers, but he’ll let you be the judge of that. Follow Richard on Twitter @richardbates_89

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