Date: 16th October 2008 at 6:06pm
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Oh ho, we are back. Wayne Rooney is once again a golden boy, the most talented English footballer of his generation, a genuine World Class player, etc., etc.

Well, he is. But only a few months ago half of the nation argued that he’s overrated, burnt out, fat, can’t score, underperforming, and so on. Very few still believed he was a genuine class act.

United fans, of course, stood by him and tried to explain to the rest that Rooney was sacrificed by Fergie – later the big man himself admitted it – and it brought the best out of Ronaldo.

Rooney scored a few important goals and produced the most assists last season but people were only concerned with his international performances. I can understand that the average Englishman’s interested in that alone and not in United but to judge a player’s quality it’s not enough to watch 8-10 games a season. He was underperforming for England so he had to be rubbish, said the logic which we struggled against to no avail.

Now it’s been even written that Capello brings more out of Rooney than Sir Alex Ferguson. And the basis of this assessment? Two brilliant games against Kazakhstan and Belarus (conveniently forgetting that he’s scored in his last three games for United). Why am I not happy now, that he finally gets the recognition he deserves? Because I know full well that the next time he plays badly he will be once again a fat overrated lazy United player. He’ll possibly be booed as well, just as Ashley Cole was.

Is he world class? Of course he is but he was that before those games against Kazakhstan and Belarus. Is it a total transformation, a sudden rebirth? No, it’s a different tactical role: he’s now playing alongside a big, physical, hard-working striker and is reaping the benefits. Now he’s not the servant but the master.

At United his role has changed, too. The arrival of Berbatov allows him much more freedom than what he’s had for a long, long time. Does that mean he’s a better player now? Not necessarily but what he does is more spectacular, it enables him to show the best of his qualities.

But I ask you: do we have to view the past few months as failure? Rooney picked up a Premier League title and a Champions League crown being the workhorse in an otherwise flamboyant team. Is it failure? No, it’s more like a learning curve for a young player who’ll be still only 23 in a week’s time.

This period calmed him down, taught him a lot about positioning and anticipation, enhanced his vision, his reading of the game. If he won’t be deprived of this newly-gained freedom then he can go on to flourish and become a real flair player once again. And England can be happy again. We, who said all along that Rooney is in fact brilliant will smirk and leave them to their joy which should not have been unexpected.