A goal on his second debut showed there may be life in the old dog yet
It just had to be, didn’t it? Wayne Rooney scoring on his second Everton debut at Goodison Park seemed inevitable. Only a hardy few would have predicted it actually happening though.
The 31-year-old broke numerous Evertonian hearts when he departed for Manchester United in 2004. One of them was Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, who, according to Sir Alex Ferguson, openly wept about the move.
If he continues to put the ball in the back of the net like he did against Stoke City on Saturday, it will go a long way to forgetting what’s happened in the past 13 years.
Much has been written and said about Rooney’s return to Merseyside this summer. The most ardent of Everton fans will have questioned the decision by Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh.
As far as they are concerned, there is too much water under the bridge and the player has too many miles on the clock.
His performance against the Potters showed those opinions may have been hasty. This was Wayne Rooney at his sumptuous best. As the old saying goes, there’s life in the old dog yet.
The old, rapid, thrilling Rooney of yesteryear is long gone and won’t be returning. Everyone, including the player himself, is aware of that.
Instead, those inside Goodison Park were treated to the elder statesman Rooney and that player is still capable of pulling off a moment of magic to light up a game and help pull his team from within a hole.
His header past Jack Butland may have looked a simple one to the untrained eye but closer inspection shows it was as clinical as they come.
Watch the run from the deep, the way he shrugs off Joe Allen and the movement in the box to earn the space. There is more than meets the eye.
He was dominant elsewhere too. Spraying passes, controlling the tempo and using his experience to help out his team in moments of need. It was something Koeman praised following the game and rightly so.
This was the best performance Wayne Rooney has put in in a number of years and it is clear to see the extra motivation he has now he is back in his beloved royal blue.
The passion on his face as he celebrated his goal in front of the Park End while the crowd chanted his name loudly showed that he is not here for sentiment’s sake.
Sure, it will take more than scoring against Stoke City to prove the doubters wrong but this was as perfect a start as he could have wished for.
If he can continue in this vein, especially in the big games, where Everton desperately need his drive, passion and experience to guide them through, his return this summer will look like a masterstroke.
If he cannot, it’s easy to imagine it won’t matter. What Rooney offers is far more than goals, another point that Koeman was keen to make following the game.
Whatever happens in the coming months, we can all agree, seeing Wayne Rooney scoring and celebrating in an Everton shirt at Goodison Park once again was great to witness. Here's hoping for more of the same.
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