After scoring the winner in the League Cup Final yesterday, Wayne Rooney was today named England's Player of the Year for 2009. It has been a remarkable year for the 24 year old Croxteth native.
With Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Old Trafford in the summer the whole weight of expectation was placed firmly on his broad shoulders. He had to step up to the plate and take over from the then World Player of the Year as the leader of the Red Devils.
It seems that Rooney has relished both the responsibility and the challenge of becoming the sole leader of the side.
At this time he is top scorer in the Premiership with 23 goals (27 in all competitions) and has become the lynchpin of an otherwise average team. Without Rooney United wouldn't be anywhere near either Arsenal or Chelsea, that is how important he has become to Sir Alex Ferguson.
So now begs the question - Is he currently the best in the world?
The answer is yes, without question on present form Wayne Rooney is better than Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Didier Drogba.
The reason for this is simple, all the above players have a support group that is surely the envy of any other player in the world. Ronaldo has Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Gonzalo Higuain. Messi has Xavi, Iniesta, Ibrahimovic and many more. Drogba has Anelka Lampard and Ballack. Rooney? Well he has Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick, all of whom are good players but not to the level that is required challenge for European and domestic honours year in year out.
You may be thinking well United have done a great job of it in the past 4 years with success at both home and abroad, and true enough this would be true. But a couple of things have changed since then. Firstly and most obviously they have lost Ronaldo, who could always help out Rooney and the rest of his team-mates with his superb creativity and eye for goal. Secondly many United players are now getting to the vetran stage of their career the like of Giggs, Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar are in their mid to late thirties and struggle to play every game. Thirdly Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are injury prone and cannot be relied upon week in week out. Ferdinand will struggle to play more than three consecutive games for the rest of his career.
So when you scratch under the surface of the Reds all is not well, and it is only because of the performances of Rooney that these issues have not been making the headlines.
Let us not forget that United can no longer go and splash out £30 million on players with the quality of Rooney and Ferdinand. The club has crippiling debts of over £700 million and Glazers today released a statement showing there intent that the club is not for sale.
So this is why at the moment there is no one on the planet that is near Wayne Rooney. All he needs to do now is win the World Cup with England and maybe he will start to get the recognition he deserves.