Rooney Clears Up At Player Awards
By Jason Mathias
Wayne Rooney continued his run of award wins last night by triumphing in all three major categories at the Manchester United Player of the Year Awards ceremony. Rooney was awarded Goal of the Season (for the counter-attack at the Emirates), Fans’ Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year in the formal dinner hosted at Old Trafford.
Having already taken the PFA Player of the Year and Football Writer’s Award, Rooney may well be growing tired of giving speeches, but it is just reward for a season where he has established himself as one of the best players in the world. The majority of Manchester United fans were worried to say the least when Cristiano Ronaldo decided to move on and his goals were seemingly not replaced by the summer transfer business. But Sir Alex Ferguson obviously was confident in the ability of his players, and Rooney especially has thrived without Ronaldo being at the club.
It has meant another new role for ‘Wazza’, no longer confined to the wings or even played behind the main striker (where it was always thought he was best). This season he has been that main striker, leading the line with great aplomb and finally finding his true position. His goal tally of 34 is his best by a long way, and he will now be turning his concentration to the World Cup.
But with the tournament approaching, Rooney faces a new challenge – can he handle the pressure of being England’s best hope of success? He has always been singled out as a player who can make the difference in a team, but after his season it is all too apparent that the weight of expectation is firmly pressed on his broad shoulders. He has handled a similar type of pressure at United all season as the main source of goals, but now this is transformed onto a national scale and the whole country will be expecting big things from him (particularly our media-driven country). Just look at the sensationalist reaction to his recent injuries. It’s a lot to handle for a man who let’s not forget is still only 24; another test which will help further him as a player.
But unless tiredness gets the better of him, or his national tournament curse strikes again, I would back him to power through as he usually does and not let it get to him. This is a man who has felt pressure ever since his breakthrough goal against Arsenal at the age of just 16. Since that moment we have expected him to become an English great. He hasn’t let us down so far. Through his natural level-headedness and some careful nurturing from his managers, Rooney has shown that he has the desire to fulfil those expectations.
In other news from the Player of the Year ceremony, Ritchie de Laet was named the Manchester United Reserve Player of the Year for a season in which he has made several first-team appearances and been a rock for the reserves in their title-winning campaign. Academy Player of the Year was striker William Keane, who has made a brilliant impression in his first year, scoring important goals and stepping up to the reserves at only 17 years of age.
There has also been more successful news over the last few days for United’s youth. After winning the North section of the Reserves League, United bested Southern champions Aston Villa on a penalty shoot-out after an exciting 3-3 draw at Old Trafford. And yesterday United were crowned champions of their Under 18’s league with a 2-0 win at closest challengers Everton. It means United now move on to a play-off semi-final against Arsenal this weekend, with the winner facing Nottingham Forest or Leicester in the final to determine the country’s best Under 18 side.
Does Rooney deserve the 3 awards? Can he lead England to glory this summer? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
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