Rooney world-class? You’re having a laugh…

Tell me I am the best Wayne...

A lot has been written about Wayne Rooney over the years, the superstar player that England has been waiting for to lead them forward in realising the team’s ambitions to win a major trophy. At Manchester United he is just another player in a long line of greats, but he is a player already spoken about as legend by some, others consider him one of the world’s best, for me Rooney is a player with a long way to go to be spoken about in such terms.

Picking up the weekend’s papers and I am not surprised Rooney has stolen the headlines again following his sending off for England on Friday. This morning’s papers read that Capello may now not take Rooney to Euro 2012 because the red card could mean that he misses either the first or first and second games in the tournament and England cannot afford to carry any player at a major tournament. Some will say ‘but it’s Wayne Rooney, you have to take him’ but the guy has some fundamental problems which mean although has some ability he hasn’t got the aptitude as Friday’s petulance showed.

Time and time again he has been given another chance, purely because of his god-given talent and the widely conceived notion that he is England’s and Manchester United’s potential greatest ever player-I have got to the stage where I need some proof of this. Messi and Ronaldo have no problem in proving that they truly are the best two players in the world, but Rooney seems some way behind them. I thought I am maybe being a tad harsh so I thought I would compare Rooney to these two players that he is talked about in the same vein as and it makes interesting reading:

At club level both Messi and Ronaldo are superior to Rooney in their goals-to-games (G-T-G) ratio, with Messi at 0.69 and Ronaldo with a whopping 1.05 goals ratio per game. Rooney has 0.49, so basically 1 goal in just about every 2 games. People will argue that La Liga resembles the Scottish Premier League with two dominate teams who are head and shoulders above the rest, so I went back in time and thought I would draw on some stats from players who have played in the Premier League and also for Real Madrid and Barcelona; Ruud van Nistelrooy (RvN) and Thierry Henry. Henry’s G-T-G for Arsenal was 0.68 and actually less in Spain at only 0.43, whilst RvN G-T-G was 0.63 at Manchester United and 0.67 for Real Madrid, also superior to Rooney’s.

For a lot of football critics it is performances at international major tournaments that mean the most, it was not like-for-like so I thought it only fair to look at total international G-T-G ratios compared to Ronaldo and Messi’s. In this category Rooney fairs better with the highest G-T-G ratio of 0.38 compared to Messi at 0.28 and Ronaldo at 0.34. A little more impressive from Rooney but let’s not kid ourselves, it is club football that now means the most and where players create their reputation week in, week out. So we have established that Rooney is a long way off Messi and his former teammate Ronaldo, as well as previous Premier League strikers.

In light of Rooney’s latest faux pas, I thought if we compared his disciplinary record to that of Ronaldo and Messi’s it may come up with some interesting results as to why he has not reached the heights that many talk him up to.

I thought Rooney may lead the way in these charts, I was wrong. The results show that Messi loves a yellow card at club level with nearly twice as much probability of collecting a yellow than Rooney and more than twice as likely as Ronaldo. The results of this are reversed at international level which is surprising. In terms of red cards Rooney has the most international following Friday, but at club level Ronaldo is a lot worse. Finding out the reason for yellows and reds would shed further light on the madness of Rooney and the others, the one deduction we can take from the disciplinary record is that Rooney is consistent in what he does and his mentality doesn’t seem to change much regardless of who he is playing for.

This season has started well for Rooney; 9 league goals in only 6 games, better than both Messi and Ronaldo so far and it looked as though it could be Rooney’s best yet. So far his one truly outstanding season was in the 2009/10 campaign where he finished the season having played 50 and scored 40 goals in all competitions. I was previously thinking about writing an article that this should finally be Rooney’s season which he could complete the rise to a truly world-class player with a solid performance at the European Championships, but this is now in doubt. With his mental frailties it seems that every time he can push on, he fails epically and continues to be a liability who can cost a team a result.

I would be very surprised if Rooney was omitted from the England squad by the way, it is more scare tactics than Capello than anything else. But why is Rooney one of the first on the team sheets for both England and Manchester United when in my opinion he only shows moments of brilliance that shows he has the potential to be world class, but that is all. Is he one of the world’s top 10 players? No. Is he the best at Manchester United? No; Vidic is a more consistent performer and Nani is a player that looks as though he is on the way to becoming one of the best in his position. I thought it could have been his disciplinary record holding him back but Messi and Ronaldo are no saints. I am not sure what the answer is for Rooney, I would love to see him become a truly world-class player, whether he can or not is down to him and this could be the biggest problem.

Thanks to our partners opta for the data on player discipline. Follow opta on Twitter!/optajoe

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