Now that’s quite a bold statement, dismissing the claims of one of the greatest striking talents of his generation, but one, I think, that holds water. Franny made his thought provoking comment in a radio interview this week, suggesting that when Rooney has achieved all his aims and ambitions at Old Trafford he would relish a return to his spiritual home.
Now Everton have history for taking back their old boys, with varying degrees of success. For every Andy King there’s been a David Johnson. For every Alan Stubbs, a Peter Beagrie. But in the eight years since Wayne Rooney became a Royal Blue old boy, Everton have moved on. It was 10-years ago today that the rest of the football world cottoned on to what Evertonians had known for months – that the Blues had a young striker with a name worth remembering. On October 19, 2002, Wayne Rooney clipped a beautifully arcing shot past David Seaman, ended Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten record and prompted Clive Tyldesley to scream “Remember the name!” It’s never been forgotten by the blue half of Merseyside, but not always recalled fondly.
Rooney’s time as a first team footballer at Everton was horribly short-lived. David Moyes had always hoped Rooney would follow the career path of a young Spanish striker called Fernando Torres, who remained with his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid, until he was 23. Instead Rooney was just 18 when he earned his agent, Paul Stretford, more than £1m by moving to Manchester United. But Everton didn't fold. They didn't decline. They didn't wallow in a sea of recriminations and self-pity. They flourished. Again.
The Blues hold a curious place in recent English football history. Twice in modern times they have sold English football’s premier goalscorer, and immediately seen their fortunes soar. Gary Lineker had just won the Golden Boot at a World Cup finals when the Blues took the controversial decision to sell him. They won the league 12 months later. Wayne Rooney was the undoubted star of Euro 2004, when the Blues reluctantly sold him on to Manchester United. Twelve months later they achieved their highest league placing since that title triumph. But there were differences from the Everton of the late 80s and the Blues of the mid-noughties. Everton clearly still needed a goalscorer in the late 1980s, as a British record breaking bid for Tony Cottee in the summer of 1988 showed.