Ranking the Best Seasons of Wayne Rooney's Manchester United Career

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentMarch 3, 2014

Ranking the Best Seasons of Wayne Rooney's Manchester United Career

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    With a new five-and-a-half-year contract in his pocket, Wayne Rooney is on course to become Manchester United's greatest goalscorer.

    Another 41 goals will see the England striker pass Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 249. A strong end to this season, and a good campaign next year, could see him top the list of United goalscorers in the next 12 months.

    At 28 years old, he is already in good company. Currently fourth on the list, he is joined in the top 10 by Old Trafford legends like Charlton, Denis Law, George Best, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

    But by the time Rooney finally leaves, he could have topped them all.

    Rooney's United career has not always been plain sailing. Some seasons, in particular 2008-09 and 2010-11, were disrupted by injury.

    Others—2010-11 and, to a certain extent, this season—have been overshadowed by contract wrangles. On both occasions, there were times when it looked like he might leave Old Trafford. But, both times, he was convinced to stay with the help of a bumper new deal.

    Since signing for United from Everton as an 18-year-old in 2004, Rooney has seen plenty of change.

    In nine-and-a-half years he has seen great players come and go. He has also seen Sir Alex Ferguson retire.

    But the one constant of Rooney's United career, through all the ups and downs, has been that he's always been at his best when the team has needed him most.

    Here's a list of Rooney's top three seasons in a United shirt, with weight given to the goals he scored, how important they were and what they meant.

    As always, feel free to use the comments section below to add your own thoughts on Rooney's career thus far. 

3. 2006-07 (55 Apps, 23 Goals)

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    In just his third season, and barely out of his 20s, Rooney was asked to fill the boots of one of United's most prolific goalscorers.

    In the summer of 2006, Ruud van Nistelrooy departed for Real Madrid after five years at Old Trafford.

    It fell to Rooney to become Sir Alex Ferguson's talisman.

    He answered any doubts with 23 goals in 55 games—his most prolific season as a professional.

    Aided by the emerging Cristiano Ronaldo, he led United to their first Premier League title in three years.

    His goalscoring production also helped United to the semi-final of the Champions League, where they were knocked out by eventual winners Milan.

2. 2011-12 (43 Apps, 34 Goals)

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    There weren't any significant exits in the summer of 2011, but Rooney still owed United a big season.

    The 2010 World Cup in South Africa had been a disaster—both for England and Rooney personally.

    The beginning of the following season was dominated by revelations about his private life. And then, in October, Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Rooney wanted to leave.

    He was eventually persuaded to stay with the incentive of a new contract.

    And during the next season, 2011-12, he began to earn his wage rise with 34 goals in 43 games.

    It would have been enough for United to retain the title had it not been for a late-season collapse and Sergio Aguero's injury-time heroics on the final day for rivals Manchester City.

1. 2009-10 (44 Apps, 34 Goals)

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    Rooney played his part in Manchester's successes between 2007 and 2009, but his role was overshadowed by two wonderful seasons from Cristiano Ronaldo.

    The Portuguese forward was the star of the show as United won the Premier League and Champions League in 2008 and then almost repeated the feat a year later, only to lose the 2009 Champions League final to Barcelona in Rome.

    It was to be Ronaldo's last game in a United shirt before his world-record move to Real Madrid.

    But in his absence, Rooney stepped out of his shadow.

    He broke his own goalscoring personal best with 34 in 44 games.

    He became so important to United that their season was derailed when he suffered an ankle injury during the run-in.

    He was rushed back but couldn't stop United from surrendering the title to Chelsea and being dumped out of Europe by Bayern Munich.