In 2002, a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney shot to super stardom as the most exciting teenage footballing talent the world had seen since Pele.
Labelled the complete footballer by pundits, fans, and praised by all professionals, he was set to become a truly world class player.
But, six years later, is he really developing into the player everyone expected him to be?
For a striker, Rooney is of a rare kind, and this is were the problem lies. His work rate and contribution to the team as a whole is always likely to exceed his goalscoring rate.
His footballing ability, astute reading of the game, movement off the ball, and natural skill are arguably unmatched by most his age in top tier football today, yet many still appear to be skeptical of Rooney's development.
Recently he has been accused of over working, over thinking, and finding it difficult to adapt to playing as a natural front man. Apparently, this can be proved—if any clarification was needed—by his evident frustration on the pitch.
I beg to differ, but he certainly isn't the prolific center forward that Ruud van Nistelrooy was, and Sir Alex Ferguson's pursuit of another temperamental but effective striker in the form of Dimitar Berbatov may be evidence enough that there is something lacking upfront for Manchester United.
Which leads me onto my next point.
It can be argued that skeptics are judging the forward on his goal scoring rate rather than his overall contribution to the team and fair enough—after all he is a forward.
But the man himself will be the first to admit that his game is about not only playing upfront, but getting involved elsewhere on the pitch just as much.
At only 22 years of age, Rooney has a long way to go in his career and he has statistically improved every season. Even when he doesn't score his contribution is sound, so why do question marks continue to appear about his progression?
Will he get better or has he reached his peak already? Will the Rooney we watch today be the same or better in six years time? Or is it all mess and is Rooney still getting better?
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