Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has explained how Wayne Rooney has turned into the club’s most important player.
Neville revealed in an interview with FourFourTwo that he’d select Rooney in his greatest ever Manchester United side ahead of great forwards like Eric Cantona, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole because of how he’s developed into a mature player.
“I see a player showing greater maturity in taking on responsibility, in his manner on the pitch and his manner around people. He understands that people look up to him,” said Neville.
“He's entered a new phase in his career. He knows he's not the up-and-coming youngster anymore, or even a player in the middle of his career. He realises that he's got vast experience from travelling a similar journey to David Beckham.”
Rooney’s greater level of maturity is personified by the fact United manager Louis van Gaal chose him to be his captain at the start of the season.
Rooney was selected ahead of teammate Robin Van Persie, who van Gaal enjoys a great relationship with, seemingly because of the qualities and development that Neville talks about.
It’s a huge season for United and Rooney because of the pressure the club is under but Neville doesn’t anticipate any problems as far as the skipper is concerned.
“He's had the media scrutiny, he's been sent off in the World Cup... nothing can shock him anymore and he's got an inner comfort from that. He knows that's what you get when you're the captain of Manchester United and England.”
Rooney is long past the point where he would have been bothered about sides trying to get under his skin and seems to be fully focused on driving his club in the right direction.