It is no coincidence that following a lengthy mid-season injury and the emergence of a new generation of deadly England strikers, Wayne Rooney has publicly stated he sees his future as a midfielder.
For over ten years Rooney has lead the line for club and country, often the match winner, breaking goal scoring records left, right and centre – but over the past two seasons, goals have become less frequent; and that burst of pace which once saw him escape a defender seems to be all but gone.
So is this the end of Wayne Rooney? Not a chance.
Ahead of Euro 2016, England boss Roy Hodgson has remained adamant that Rooney will go to the tournament as squad captain, but it doesn’t guarantee him a starting place in the side.
Hodgson isn’t stupid and like the rest of the nation can see that Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge and youngster Marcus Rashford are all very much ahead of Rooney in a role up top – but what England’s record goalscorer does possess is a wonderful, natural, footballing ability.
He has never just been about goals – he offers so much more and is beginning to adapt to his new position on a football field.
In United’s FA Cup final victory over Crystal Palace, Rooney was instrumental. His influence from a deeper role on the big stage was sensational.
His role in particular, for United’s equaliser was momentous; carrying the ball from thirty yards out, passing three defenders into the box before delivering a cross.
Whilst the last six months has seen people argue the toss over if Rooney should make the squad, based on his last five matches, it seems he may well be first name of the team sheet.
For a number of years many have suggested Rooney, like his former United team mate Paul Scholes, should begin to move deeper. When the legs begin to go, players of this nature can rely on their brain and quick passing ability.
Of course the odd 35 yard, Steven Gerrard or David Beckham-like passes do not always reach their intended target and cries of ‘show pony’ or ‘Hollywood pass’ spring to mind – but sometimes they do.
At 30, Rooney is not naïve – he could probably see in training on a daily basis that Marcus Rashford possesses that explosive pace and deadly eye for goal that he once had at 18.
The writing has been on the wall for a while, and like all professionals at one stage in their career, how they deal with it is what sets them apart – and so far, Rooney is producing the goods elsewhere.
It seems Rooney’s choice was no doubt to fight it out with Rashford at club level; then Kane and co. at international level; fights he simply would not win.
His announcement that he is to play in midfield from now on is not only a choice of self-preservation and career longevity, but one of extreme maturity.
It is also of great benefit to Manchester United and England.
On this form, Wayne Rooney must be given a chance in the role for England.