Wayne Rooney

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Rooney admits Liverpool ‘deserve’ Premier League title

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Wayne Rooney has admitted that Liverpool deserve to win the Premier League title, even if a small part of the former Everton and Man United legend was hoping the season would be canceled.

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With Liverpool 25 points clear atop the Premier League table with nine games to go they were on the verge of sealing their first league title in 30 years before the 2019-20 PL season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been suggestions the 2019-20 season should be ‘null and void’ but the official stance from the Premier League and the English FA is that the current campaign will be ‘extended indefinitely’ as the will is to finish the season.

Writing in his new column for The Times, Rooney revealed that the temptation is there to push for the season to be called off due to the coronavirus pandemic but he’s put his club loyalties to one side to give Liverpool their dues.

“Liverpool will win the Premier League,” Rooney said. “Now, as you can imagine, I have Everton fans phoning me up saying: ‘The season has to be canceled!’ And, of course, as an Evertonian and someone who played for Manchester United for 13 years, there’s a bit in me that thinks that would be good. But no. Liverpool have been fantastic. They have put so much work in. They deserve this title. Can you imagine waiting 30 years and then having it taken away like this? The right decision has been made.

”It’s also right in terms of promotion and relegation and Champions League places. These issues are so big for the clubs involved that I imagine there would be a lot of legal fights if the season was just abandoned. The fair thing is to finish 2019-20 – even if we have to lose next season in the process. It wouldn’t surprise me if finishing the season takes until the end of 2020. Football, like every other industry, is in unknown territory and, just like every other industry, has to listen to the advice and take all necessary precautions. For me, that rules out finishing the season behind closed doors.”

Rooney’s sentiments are shared by pretty much everyone.

Even the most ardent Everton and Man United fans, among others, would admit that Liverpool are worthy champions and plans should be made to award them the title if the 2019-20 campaign can’t be resumed due to coronavirus.

Most people would agree with Rooney’s comments about the rest of the 2019-20 campaign too. If it takes until December to finish this season, that is how long it should take.

Tom Brady not at the Patriots? It will remind you of these soccer legends

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In light of Tom Brady heading to either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and LA Rams after ending his legendary 20-year with the New England Patriots, which soccer legends have ended their careers at similarly random teams?

This article was inspired by a similar piece NBC Sports’ lead baseball writer over at Hardball Talk, Craig Calcaterra, published on Tuesday and it is certainly fascinating to look back at some of the great players synonymous with one particular teams or nation who finished their days in very different surroundings.

Here’s a look at a few random endings to legendary careers and feel free to send your own in the comments section below.


Ian Wright

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who became their all-time leading goalscorer when at the club, moved on to Burnley, Celtic, Nottingham Forest and West Ham in the final years of his career and it just didn’t seem, right (pardon the pun). Wright playing in claret and blue was strange, even though he had played for Crystal Palace before moving to Arsenal, when you think of Wright you think of him scoring at the Clock End at Highbury and wildly celebrating as only he could. You don’t think of him scoring at Turf Moor for Burnley in the third-tier. Ever.


Pep Guardiola 

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Pep Guardiola is a legend as a player and manager at Barcelona (probably more so the latter) as the holding midfielder was a key cog in the Barca team which won their first-ever European Cup in 1992 at Wembley. After 13 years at Barcelona he then played for Brescia (twice) and Roma in Italy before beginning an extremely nomadic final few years. After stops at Al-Ahli in Qatar and finally Dorados Sinola followed a spell at Sampdoria, with Guardiola playing 10 times and scoring one goal for the Mexican club. The reason he played for Dorados and finished his career there was due to being at management school in Axocopan, Atlixco, Puebla. That’s right, a spell living, playing and learning in the city known to be home of the notorious Sinaloa cartel fronted by ‘El Chapo’ helped turn Guardiola into one of the best coaches the game has ever seen.


Gary Lineker

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Gary Lineker’s incredible goalscoring career saw him play for many clubs as he started at hometown team Leicester City then move on to Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham before ending his career at Nagoya Grampus Eight of the J-League. Because of course. Third in England’s all-time leading goalscorer list, Lineker spent the last two years of his career in Japan. The man who was the leading goalscorer at the 1986 World Cup has since become a very successful broadcaster with various outlets. Many people forget about him ending his playing days in Japan, though, and when you think of Lineker you think about him scoring goals for England and English clubs.


Xavi

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One of the greatest midfielders of all-time who made one of the best, if not the best, teams of all-time tick, Xavi Hernandez will always be a Barcelona legend after making 767 appearances for them in all competitions. After a stunning 24-year career at the Nou Camp which saw him come through the academy ranks to captain the side as he won eight league titles, three Spanish cups, four Champions League titles and two Club World Cups (to go alongside his two European Championships and a World Cup for Spain) Xavi left Barca to play for Al Sadd in Qatar. He is now Al Sadd’s manager but his decision to see out his playing days with three years in the Qatari Stars League was seen as extremely bizarre, at the time.


Wayne Rooney

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Wayne Rooney is currently playing for Derby County in England’s second-tier and that isn’t how we expected him to come to the end of his career. Rooney, 34, has been mildly successful in spells back at Everton and then at D.C. United after leaving Man United in the summer of 2017 but playing in the Championship for Derby is a strange ending for the all-time leading goalscorer of both England and Man United. His move to Derby sees him taking on coaching responsibilities with the youth teams too, so there’s a pathway into management, just like Xavi.

Rooney proposes wintry change to help seasons delayed by coronavirus

Wayne Rooney
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Derby County captain Wayne Rooney says players will be happy to play it extra safe when it comes to the coronavirus’ effect on their seasons.

Rooney says there’s a solution for everything, and that the Premier League season could find resolution in the calendar thanks to the winter World Cup scheduled for 2022.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

While of course theoretical and requiring developments in the treatment and control of the virus, Rooney says European seasons could finish by September

“The next World Cup is in November and December 2022, so you could actually use this situation as an opportunity and say we’re going to finish the 2019-20 season later this year, then prepare for 2022 by having the next two seasons starting in winter.”

There’s a lot of common sense to Rooney’s proposal on the surface level, though obviously there are myriad contractual and legal avenues that may make it improbable.

The big question would be what to do after that 2022 World Cup, as waiting from January to August to start a new season would be a bit wild. Maybe each successive season would change by one month until it reached the traditional start date?

And, honestly, it’s intriguing to wonder if European football adopting a “warmer weather” schedule and international football hosting its events in the Fall would improve an already terrific thing.

Rooney was also critical of the delays in putting Football League matches on hold, saying players were watching other sports close down and unable to focus on their personal coronavirus concerns.

He claimed it “almost” felt like footballers were being treated “like guinea pigs.”

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

Solskjaer on Ighalo, Rooney, Man Utd win: ‘Everyone loves Wayne’

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Manchester United will look to stretch its unbeaten run to 10 matches when it hosts Manchester City in what should be a scintillating derby on Sunday.

The Red Devils hit nine matches on Thursday when they eliminated old pal Wayne Rooney and Derby County from the FA Cup with a 3-0 win at Pride Park.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was thrilled with the performances of striker Odion Ighalo and rare goal scorer  Luke Shaw in the win.

For Ighalo, it’s three goals in two starts for United after a trio of goal-free substitute appearances. Here’s Solskjaer, via the BBC:

“When you get strikers in you want them to be happy and confident. He has come in here and of course we still have a few injuries and it is great for us to have Odion to call upon. He is a different striker for us and scores some good goals, there is not many who could dig that one out for his first. We have a team of good players.”

The striker says he’s feeling good around Old Trafford, and isn’t bothered by any odd thoughts regarding his return to the Premier League from the Chinese Super League.

“As long as my team-mates believe in me, the boss believes in me and the fans believe in me, just have to keep going. I don’t care what anyone says.”

Rooney nearly got on the score sheet with a technical marvel of a free kick in stoppage time, but Sergio Romero made an even better play to slap the ball over the bar.

Solskjaer and Rooney were teammates at Old Trafford for a few seasons, and there’s mutual appreciation.

“Everyone loves Wayne, all the supporters at Manchester United appreciate what he did,” Solskjaer said. “He played well. He shows class and sometimes he has too much time on the ball for my liking.”

Rooney was quite good on the day. The Derby County captain completed 11 of 15 long balls while connecting on 88 percent of his passes. He had five key passes, an interception, a blocked shot, two tackles, and a clearance (via Sofascore).

Ighalo leads Man Utd past Derby County

Manchester United
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Manchester United dealt with old pal Wayne Rooney and Derby County to reach the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Odion Ighalo scored in each half after Luke Shaw opened the scoring to lead the Red Devils past the Rams 3-0 at Pride Park on Thursday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Rooney put on a decent display in a losing effort. The Derby County captain completed 11 of 15 long balls while connecting on 88 percent of his passes. He had five key passes, an interception, a blocked shot, two tackles, and a clearance (via Sofascore).

Sergio Romero denied Rooney a wonderful stoppage-time free kick goal when he flew right to slap a ball over the bar.

Shaw’s goal was a bounding effort from the left side of the box in the 33rd minute.

It’s his first since opening day of the 2018/19 Premier League season, and just his second in 151 senior appearances between Southampton and Manchester United.

Ighalo has scored in both of his starts for United this season since arriving from the Chinese Super League, and his first goal was especially deft (see below). The 30-year-old maneuvered between two defenders and finished well. He deposited his own rebound after a Juan Mata pass in the 70 minute to make it 3-0.

United will visit Norwich City in the quarterfinals, which is comprised entirely of Premier League combatants.

[ MORE: FA Cup Draw ]