January 24, 2017

FREE KICKS: Rooney a real Red Devils legend

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

As divisive as he may be, there’s no denying that Wayne Rooney is one of the greatest to ever play for Manchester United.

In fact, he’s now, technically, the greatest goal-scorer to play for the world’s biggest club.

With a stunning free kick late in Saturday’s game against Stoke, Rooney netted his 250th goal for United to pass George Best’s record and put Rooney atop of the all-time list.

The best part about it: Rooney cared more about getting the ball to resume play and go for a winner than celebrate his momentous marker. Now that’s a team player.

Too often we see players more concerned about doing a nice dance after scoring a big goal, but Rooney is different.

Even after the game, with the spotlight on him and questions abound about his new place in history, Rooney was actually disappointed that his team could only muster a draw.

It was the personification of the old adage that it’s not about the name on your back, but the one on the front of your jersey – and no, not the big sponsor’s logo.

Rooney right now is a player without a position in Jose Mourinho’s system and his time at United – certainly his playing time – could be coming to a close. What the future hold for him remains murky, but at least he’ll always have a piece of history.


Earlier this season, Fernando Llorente narrowly lost out on our award to Alexis Sanchez. This week, the Swans’ striker finally nabs the honour.

Llorente potted two goals in Swansea’s stunning 3-2 win over Liverpool – and at Anfield no less.

The Spaniard’s goals weren’t of the wondrous variety, but the only that matters is that they hit the back of the net. And, most importantly, they helped pull the Swans out of the relegation zone, rising to 17th place with the tough three points.

On the other side, Liverpool’s defence is once again holding it back from turning this team into a real contender. A team that supposed to be contending for the title shouldn’t be shipping three goals to one of the league’s worst sides, especially at home.


After last week’s big loss to Everton, Man City bounced back to scrap for a draw with Tottenham this week and saw the debut of highly touted Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus. The real question about City is if they can shape up on defence, though, not in attack … Spurs are the latest team to go to a back three, thanks to their rash of injuries on the back line. This move should allow Kyle Walker and Danny Rose to get further forward, which can only help their attack … The last thing that Southampton wanted to see after selling Jose Fonte to West Ham was Virgil Van Dijk go down injured. That back line could be in some real trouble now with a big lack of depth at CB. The Saints still shutout Leicester City, though … Arsenal has now fielded a starting XI with no English players 149 times in the Premier League. All other EPL teams combined have done so 122 times … Arsene Wenger has been charged with misconduct for shoving a ref after being sent off late against Burnley. That should see him in the stands for at least a game or two … Granit Xhaka now has nine red cards in three years and three this season. The lad isn’t learning from his mistakes and will now sit four games … Burnley deserved to get a point against Arsenal. Laurent Koscielny was in an offside position when he was fouled to earn the Gunners their very late penalty – converted by Alexis – and it shouldn’t have been called. The Clarets should feel rightfully upset … That’s two three-goal games in a row for the Irons after Dimitri Payet’s transfer demand. The team is showing the French star that perhaps they don’t need him … Of course Diego Costa scored in his return to the Chelsea lineup. How could the EPL scriptwriters have done it any differently?


With the transfer window soon coming to a close, let’s take a quick peak at some of the Premier League’s transfer business this January.

-Everton has shipped once-promising winger Gerard Deulofeu on loan to AC Milan. The so-called Gerry D. has been known for his moments of magic on the ball, but has never put it all together for a consistent run of form. Whether this move helps him grow or begins his exit remains to be seen.

-Lazar Markovic came back from his loan to Sporting in Portugal only to be loaned to Hull City by Liverpool. It seems pretty clear he young Serb isn’t part of Juergen Klopp’s plans with this move.

-Jose Mourinho sold off two big money transfers from the previous regime, sending Memphis Depay to Lyon and Morgan Schneiderlin to Everton. Depay didn’t get too much of an opportunity when Anthony Martial signed up for United later in that window while Schneiderlin couldn’t get a place under the Special One and should help solidify the Toffees’ defence.

-Saido Berahino got his move away from the Hawthorns two years too late, heading to Stoke. Remember when he was considered for an England callup?


Every once in a while we are reminded that these guys out there are just regular humans like us, too.

One of those moments happened on Sunday when Hull City’s Ryan Mason suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain after cracking heads with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.

The sound was sickening and the reaction was instant.

Every player and ref on the field knew it was a bad one, calling for help immediately. It was that quick action that may have saved Mason’s life.

According to the team, he’s stable and recovering hospital – the best possible news. Whether or not if he returns to the pitch remains to be seen and doesn’t really matter right now. All that does is that he’s OK and we sincerely wish him well in his recovery.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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