By Ollie Irish
Yes, as Wayne Rooney once told his England team-mates, the big man is back. Not that he ever went away, but this season is turning out to be a watershed campaign for Wazza, as he makes the transformation from Cristiano Ronaldo’s wingman to the man at Old Trafford.
There can be no doubt that Rooney is now the top dog at Manchester United. He is what Lionel Messi is to Barcelona, a player without an armband but the team’s natural leader – from the front, like Messi. Not even Ronaldo at Real Madrid has that status.
Alex Ferguson, who deserves huge praise for the way he has helped Rooney develop (remember all the ominous talk about Roo’s dodgy temperament and self-destructive tendencies, about how he would turn out to be the next George Best or Gazza), hailed his star player as “truly world-class” after last night’s League Cup triumph against Man City (photos of that match coming soon).
But how world-class is Rooney? Where does he currently stand compared with talents like Messi, Torres and Ronaldo? Based on his stunning performances against City, when he was a one-man wrecking ball – but with quite brilliant control, physically and mentally – I’d rate him as the best attacking player on the planet. Right now, I mean. In more general terms, and factoring in the past couple of seasons, I’d still say he’s a little way below Messi and Ronaldo, but it seems the gap is closing.
Where do you rate Rooney among the world’s best forwards?