Rooney vs Charlton: Whose Manchester United scoring record is better?
As acceptance of Wayne Rooney’s declining form grows more widespread, the trend for micro-analysing his latest performance has given way to a fresh wave of appreciation for all that he's achieved in his Manchester United career.
For many of his long-standing former colleagues, a large proportion of whom now populate the mainstream media, the suggestion that Rooney’s days might be numbered is an uncomfortable one to bear. Much more palatable is the chance to reflect and see him for the player he was, rather than the player he might have become.
Nobody can say for sure just how long Rooney has left at Old Trafford. Many great players have been written off before, only to then reinvent themselves and return for an Indian summer. However, it’s probably not unreasonable to say – particularly in light of recent off-field incidents – that Rooney might be starting to wrestle with the idea of his own footballing mortality.
No good thing lasts forever, and the United No.10 might soon be inclined to revise his own expectations about being the fulcrum of Jose Mourinho’s team; a player around whom the entire operation revolves.
On the cusp
One more goal and he draws level, on 249, with arguably the club’s most iconic former player
It's just as well, then, that Rooney finds himself on the verge of becoming United’s all-time record goalscorer. What better way to shift the focus from what you can’t do to what you can? By joining the past and present together, and breaking records that will remain his for at least another generation, he has a means of justifying his presence in the immediate future.
In United’s recent Europa League match against Feyenoord, Rooney broke Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer in European competition. And with it, presumably, came a swell of pride at the reaction from the people he respects most. It could serve as motivation for challenges to come.
Now the Liverpudlian has Sir Bobby Charlton in his sights. His next target is the big one, and it’s so close: Manchester United’s all-time record goalscorer. Ever. One more goal and he draws level, on 249, with arguably the club’s most iconic former player. Two more, and he’s home and hosed.
But how do Charlton and Rooney really compare? If you trawl through the 497 goals they share with a fine-tooth comb, applying a mixture of both statistical and anecdotal analysis, which player has arrived at their total in more impressive fashion? This is what FourFourTwo has boldly set out to discover…
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