Well, you could knock us down with a feather. It turns out that Ronald Koeman, Everton coach and of a nose so hard that it could crack toffee, is a right softie after all. How else does one explain Everton’s capture of their former wunderkind, Wayne Rooney?
Rooney has signed from Manchester United with Koeman saying he was “desperate” to return to the club that made him a star.
There is, however, a saying in football. Never go back. Not that many Everton fans, or Koeman himself, have paid much heed to it. In the end it is they who could be desperately disappointed with such a high-profile capture.
Since the announcement of his signing, Rooney has been backed off the charts to finish as the Premier League’s top goalscorer next season. A massive 47 per cent of bets placed on the market have been for Rooney. That’s more than twice the number for any other player.
It is quite an extraordinary gamble, mainly because it gives us an insight into the mind of the punter. Well, the emotional punter that is. This is clearly a gamble inspired by Everton fans who are hoping beyond hope that he will recapture his glory days. They are betting on something they want to happen, rather than something that will.
They seem to have forgotten that he scored ‘only’ 15 goals in 40 league appearances when he was with them before a £20 million transfer to United saw those same fans calling him a Judas.
They also seem to have forgotten his more recent goalscoring record, which is frankly terrible and suggests he should have been +20,000. He scored five Premier League goals last season and eight the campaign before that.
Given such a paucity of goals there is surely value in the Rooney specials which are available. Coral go -110 that he scores under eight goals in the league for his new (old) club. They are +400 that he scores under five. The way his form is going, that is a fine wager.
Indeed, the decline has been set in motion for some time. Rooney has lost the bursts of energy which took him past players or into the box. His timing has gone. So too his vision. And it doesn’t really matter that Koeman will play him as an attacker. He’s gone.
He is such a shadow of his former self that one has to pinch oneself that he is only 31. That is still a good age for a footballer and it can’t be coincidence that his lifestyle choices (the odd cigarette now and again) has surely taken away his edge.
The best comparison is Cristiano Ronaldo. They were wunderkinds at the same age, well almost. Pinch yourself again. Ronaldo is a year older and he is getting better.