Hated. Adored. Never Ignored.
This axiom is used by Reds everywhere to describe what it’s like to be a United supporter. It allows us to keep our feet on the ground when the ABUs come calling.
It also serves to describe our relationship with current skipper, Wayne Rooney – who is about to begin his twelfth season at the club. If things go his way this season, he may well end the campaign as both MUFC’s and England’s top scorer.
But, like that relationship status on Facebook – it’s complicated.
He’s from Croxteth. He’s made some poor personal choices in the past. There was that on-field temper, the petulance. And he’s had not one, but two contract showdowns with the club. He is sometimes unplayable, but sometimes disinterested. Yet regardless, he’s also seemingly undroppable.
Rooney is likely the best English player of his generation. The man has been a hero and a villain to supporters on multiple occasions. One wonders what the reaction will be once he inevitably owns the scoring record for both club and country. Will it be one of grudging respect or will these feats allow fans to realize how lucky they’ve been to see him play?
Rooney looks set to begin the season as United’s main striker. A role he’s played once or twice in the past, though many would argue it’s not his best position. Perhaps the thrill of the chase will be enough to motivate him, but the last time he scored 20 goals or more was 2011/12, when he bagged 34.
The captain will almost certainly surpass Denis Law’s 237 this season, with only the absolute legend – Sir Bobby Charlton – left to catch on 249. It seems he will be given every opportunity, and should he stay fit, you can imagine the building media frenzy and accompanying pressure as he starts to get closer to 250.
In fact, it’s Charlton he’s chasing for the England record as well. You’d fancy Rooney’s chances to rewrite that piece of history though – as he needs only two goals for 50, with England playing at least six matches and maybe more. And whisper it, he’s only a mere 21 caps away from being England’s all-time appearance maker, too.
So it’s quite likely that Wayne Rooney will be talked about a lot this season – and if everything works out as planned, he will stand alone atop the Manchester United and England scoring charts.
Not bad for a player that divides opinion the way he does. But then again, it’s complicated isn’t it?