Manchester United saw off Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday thank to a late strike from Wayne Rooney.
The Englishman spoke after the game about the winner which he believes is similar to the goal scored by former United favourite and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
His manager Sir Alex Ferguson will been delighted to see his team sit 9 points clear at the top of the Premier League table after title rivals Manchester City were held to 2-2 draw at the Etihad by Liverpool on Sunday.
Ferguson will be equally as delighted to see Rooney back on form after a difficult winter period saw him suffer with form and fitness concerns whilst summer signing and current league top goalscorer Robin van Persie has been grabbing all the headlines up front for the Red Devils.
Rooney reminisced about the title-winning goal from Ronaldo back in 2007 at Craven Cottage in what I assume was an effort to build momentum and belief in the team that they can push on and hold on to their lead at the top.
But, by comparing himself to Ronaldo, does Rooney make a rod for his own back? He told reporters,
"I fancied myself to score. It was a little bit similar to Cristiano’s goal. After that goal we went on to win the league and hopefully that can happen again.”
I get the sentiment but Rooney hasn’t had the best season and he has largely been overshadowed by Van Persie who, in many ways, has replaced Rooney as the star of the team. Rooney, since his move from Everton back in 2004, has been United’s most dangerous and dominant star player – with one exception perhaps.
It’s bizarre to me that Rooney would bring up the Ballon d’Or runner-up because when the Real Madrid man wore red at Old Trafford, he was the star, he grabbed all the headlines and he was the cog around which the Manchester United machine was built.
Rooney's goal, cutting in from the same angle at the same end of the pitch to score the winner could prove as decisive ultimately in the title race come May, but by bringing up Ronaldo he unintentionally highlights how his former teammate has taken his game to a new level over the past three years, and he has not.
In many ways it is in fact Robin van Persie who is due the comparisons with Ronaldo – he is undoubtedly the most exceptionally gifted player in the Premier League this season but, back in 2007/08 Ronaldo was.
In fact, it wasn’t until Ronaldo left that Rooney really hit his stride – the season after Ronaldo’s departure in the summer of 2009, Rooney notched up his best tally to date with 34 goals in 44 appearances and bagged the PFA and PWA Player of the Year awards. It would appear that Wayne Rooney is at his best when he is the best. He doesn’t like playing second fiddle. To anyone.
image: © Jan S0L0