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On the 10th anniversary of his first goal as a professional, Wayne Rooney went through the full gamut of football emotions against Stoke today. The England striker scored an own-goal, scored a brace and then added an assist as Manchester, like Chelsea before them, came from behind to win 4-2.
Rooney looked distinctly off-colour in a week where his potential, whether or not he has fulfilled it, has been the element of great debate.
Sir Alex Ferguson, expecting a flaccid Stoke performance, sent out his team in an attack-minded-looking 4-3-3, but they got more than they bargained for after their star player, Rooney, nodded into his own net following a trademark deep cross from Charlie Adam.
Stoke then looked the better side and really should have gone 2-0 up before Rooney's equaliser after Jonathan Walters' tame finish after a couple of superb one-twos.
Rooney was slow to the break off the ball during the entire first half. It was almost as if the magnitude of the 26-year-old's 10th anniversary, his early own-goal and his late England game on Thursday were all conspiring against him to make him look heavy-legged.
Despite all that, he scored right on the stroke of halftime to record his 199th club goal.
The Red Devils No. 10 then had a hand in the move that saw Robin van Persie turn provider immediately after the break.
Danny Welbeck latching onto van Persie's smashed cross to put United in the driving seat against a Stoke team who only scored 36 goals during the entirety of last season.
Michael Kightly, briefly, gave Stoke a chance after yet another Rio Ferdinand mistake, only for Rooney to score again.
The England international put the game beyond doubt with his 200th career goal on Paul Scholes' 400th league appearance to leave dead and buried.
Despite some impressive statistics involving two goals and an assist, Wayne Rooney was far from his best today.
He struggled to capture the form he is capable of, and at times he looked as if he was going through the motions.
If he was playing against a proper team that would have met him head-on in a challenge instead of skirting around the edges, his influence would have been negligible. This, perhaps, can be put down to the relative poor quality of teams below the recognised top five in the Premier League.
In essence, this game almost looks like a microcosm of Rooney's 10-year career at the top.
He has limitless potential but rarely hits that level, and when he plays poorly, he is still better than most players on the planet. Just like today.