When you hear Wayne Rooney's name mentioned aloud, odds are the very first thing you think about are goals. Lots of goals, in fact, and each of them prettier than the last.
One thing you likely don't think about, on the other hand, is Rooney's status as a leader. This is because for all his goalscoring majesty, General George S. Patton he is not. If you prefer, one supposes his football non-equal would be Steven Gerrard.
This is something that Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson thinks can and will change this season. He said this weekend that he's noticed something different about his star striker, and it has him excited.
"He is playing with a zest and energy that has taken him to new heights," Fergie told United Review, per Goal.com. "Energy burns in him. But there is also a maturity to his football now that is of tremendous benefit to the team."
This "energy" that is burning within Rooney is plenty evident to the naked eye. After looking nothing like himself for a year (maybe more?), Rooney has been playing like a man possessed in the early goings this season. He already has eight Premier League goals, which is a remarkable total when you consider the fact he had 11 total all of 2010-11.
Considering this, it's no wonder Rooney is playing with such "zest" and "energy." It's also no wonder that Fergie is hoping he can transmit these things to his comrades.
"Wayne is ready now to take his career up a further notch and become a leader himself," said Fergie. "He has already put a marker down on a personal level, but now he can assume greater responsibility, and I see his colleagues responding."
The odd part here is that Fergie is making Rooney out to be grizzled veteran, which is an odd thought seeing as how he's still just 25.
But Rooney is a veteran. He's been with Man U since 2004, and it's certainly not an exaggeration to say that it is his squad. What Fergie is suggesting is that Rooney take it upon himself to act accordingly.
As such, I guess you could say that there's really nothing odd about the idea. Instead of being the star, the time has indeed come for Rooney to be the star who makes everyone around him stars.
The scary part is what will happen if such an idea actually pans out. The Red Devils are already an outstanding club, and they already sit atop the Premiere League. If Rooney's leadership is the key to them getting even better, then God save the EPL if he actually does become a leader.