How important could that signing have been for us success-starved Geordies?
But those were the days when we had a board with ambition. Yeah Shepherd and Dastardly Dougie took the piss at times, but they broke the World Record Transfer fee to sign Alan Shearer, and topped that with the signing of Michael Owen.
Will it ever happen again? With the money Mike Ashley is sat on (£2.5 billion) you would expect more than we get from the man.
We don't buy big any more. But imagine Tyneside if Ashley splashed the cash for Rooney.
And why not ... he's not a happy bunny at Old Trafford ...
It is understood that Rooney is fuming at comments made by United manager David Moyes at the weekend which suggested he was now regarded as a second-choice striking option behind Robin van Persie.
Rooney has taken that as a personal slight on a player who has given nine years' service to the Old Trafford cause and is "angry and confused" about his treatment.
The offending words were delivered to Sunday newspaper journalists during a briefing with Moyes in Bangkok last week.
Moyes said: "Overall, my thought on Wayne is that if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie we are going to need him and I want as many options as possible."
It has been widely interpreted as Moyes stating he regards Rooney as an understudy to the prolific Dutchman.
And understandably, that has gone down very badly.
A source close to the situation has highlighted Rooney's unhappiness.
As far as the 27-year-old is concerned, he is at the peak of his career and has no intention of playing second fiddle to anyone, or being reduced to the ranks of becoming a squad player.
With four Premier League titles and a Champions League winners' medal to his name, Rooney does not believe he has anything to prove at United.
Yet he feels as though he has been put on trial by Moyes at a time when he should be concentrating his efforts on recovering from the hamstring injury that saw him sent home from United's pre-season tour within hours of landing in Thailand on Thursday.
"Wayne is confused and angry", said the source.
United are aware of Rooney's feelings and once Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward wake up on Wednesday morning in Sydney, they will come under pressure to clarify their own position.
Woodward himself added fuel to the fire by insisting there were no plans to sit down with Rooney and discuss an extension to his £250,000-a-week contract, which still has two years to run.
"No contract renewals are being discussed," said Woodward while United were in Thailand.
"I am not sitting down with any player on an extension and there is no trigger date in the diary.
"Would we be afraid to run a contract down? Of course not."
It represents the first major test for Moyes and Woodward, who both took over their new roles on July 1 following the exits of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill respectively.
Rooney's future has been the subject of intense speculation throughout the summer, triggered initially by Ferguson leaving him out of the Champions League knockout clash with Real Madrid in March.
Ferguson subsequently claimed Rooney had asked to leave United, something the player vehemently denies.
It was widely assumed if Ferguson had remained at the helm, his relationship with Rooney had been damaged beyond repair.
Moyes has adopted a more conciliatory tone and has continuously stuck by the club position of Rooney not being for sale.
"Unless I was speaking double Dutch last week," said Moyes on Friday ahead of United's surprise defeat to Singha All Stars, "we said Wayne Rooney is not for sale."
That statement was a response to the cheeky assessment of the situation by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho earlier in the day.
"From an ethical point of view I can not speak about other team's players," Mourinho had said in a press conference immediately after his arrival in the Thai capital.
"But I won't speak with hypocrisy. It's not in my nature. I always speak what I think.
"He is a player I like very much but I can't say much more. He is fast and direct and I like him. But he is a Manchester United player."
In an interview with the BBC, Mourinho added: "If Wayne is a second choice for Man Utd, then the national team will be affected."
Attempts at reconciliation will not be helped by the geographical distance between the two parties.
Woodward is due to return home following Saturday evening's encounter with the A-League All Stars at ANZ Stadium.
However, Moyes will not be back in England for another week as United still have two matches in Japan and one in Hong Kong, on July 29, before their tour reaches its conclusion.
Yet it would take an incredible piece of man-management for Rooney to be pulled round now.
Both Chelsea and Arsenal have been linked with the player, in addition to PSG, yet United have made it their business never to sell a key player to any rival club.
Whether that stance can be maintained in the current climate is open to some considerable debate.
Source: Newcastle United Mad