This is an article that I have wanted to write for a very long time.
It has been nearly two years since I first thought about it. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself here. It’s not like I’ve been slowly writing it all this time and I’m presenting you with a masterpiece. I have written it over the course of a few hours today.
My point is, the subject of the article was conceived some time prior to its actual birth.
My best mate is a Man Yoo fan. I say fan, like most of his peers he’s never once been to Old Trafford or any Manchester United game for that matter (in fact the only Premier League game he’s been to was the Tyne/Wear derby with me last season). Nonetheless, he watches all the games on TV and it was during a match between our two beloved clubs on Boxing Day 2014 that we started debating Wayne Rooney.
I spent the first twenty minutes giving him a good slating and claiming he wasn’t half the striker that Alan Shearer was. He went on to score to two goals and we lost 3-1. Needless to say my mate was pretty smug.
At the time Wayne Rooney was on 179 Premier League goals. He needed another 81 goals to overtake Alan Shearer as the Premier League’s all time top goal scorer. I told my pal that he wouldn’t beat the record but he was adamant I was wrong.
Rooney was 29 so should have been either at his peak or just tipping the wrong side of it. Arguably he could be effective for another four or five or even six years. If he played another six years he’d need to average 13.5 goals a season to beat the record.
My friend was so confident, he felt that he could do it in the next few seasons. He reliably informed me he’d only need to score 30 goals a season for the next three years and he’d pass it. At this point I started looking up Rooney’s statistics and was chuffed to be able to reveal that Rooney was yet to achieve that feat in his career and was unlikely to start now he was knocking on the door of thirty years of age. Plus, that 2014/15 season was half gone and he’d only just added goals numbers five and six of his season. Hardly the type of form that’d threaten the record.
I went on to argue that it wouldn’t happen and if it did it would be undeserved. I pointed out that Shearer was not only a prolific goal scorer but also a fantastic role model, whereas Wayne Rooney is anything but.
I also stated that Rooney had an unfair advantage in that he has had the opportunity to play his whole career in the Premier League, whereas Shearer’s first few seasons were in the old First Division with Southampton where he racked up another 23 goals that sadly can’t be included in his tally.
At that point, I resolved to write up this article once Wayne Rooney had played as many Premier League games as Alan Shearer. So here it is.
As of today the stats read;
Alan Shearer 442 Premier League Appearances 260 Premier League Goals
Wayne Rooney 443 Premier League Appearances 194 Premier League Goals
It’s a like-for-like whitewash!
Okay, I know that’s not quite fair. I will try to be a least a little subjective.
When Rooney started playing he was a 16 year old wonder kid, whereas Alan Shearer’s first game in the Premier League he had turned 22 two days earlier and scored two goals against Crystal Palace (boy that’s a lot of twos).
In fact, up to that game Rooney would be considered the better player in a head-to-head. Shearer played 118 games in the First Division and scored 23 goals. Rooney, in his first three seasons, managed to accumulate 97 appearances for Everton and Man Yoo. In this time he managed 26 goals and still had three years on Shearer.
Of course, once Shearer went to Blackburn he truly ignited: scoring 16, 31, 34 and 31 before he signed for us. Admittedly he never hit 30+ for us but he got 25 in the first year and then in the pre-season of his second season he suffered a broken leg and ruptured ankle ligaments that kept him out for more than half of that season.
After that he never had the blistering pace that’d he’d previously combined with power and incredible finishing ability. The amazing thing about him is he changed his style, he adjusted to his new-found limitations and went on to score 121 goals in his next 8 seasons. This despite missing large parts of the 2000/2001 season too with knee injuries.
Rooney hasn’t had any really bad injuries and amazingly in the 14 seasons prior to this one and the
532 games he could have appeared in, he’s only not participated in 96 games. Shearer missed 40 just across those two seasons. That’s not even mentioning the injury against Sunderland that meant his final season ended a month early.
I don’t think there’s any danger of Wayne Rooney breaking Shearer’s record. Since my disagreement he’s only gone on to add 15 goals to his tally. His form and place in the Man Yoo line-up are constantly being questioned these days, plus he’s playing deeper and deeper.
I think Wayne Rooney will go on to play in excess of 600 Premier League games but I would be very surprised if he scored more than 230 let alone 260.
Shearer scored 283 in 559 across both division formats, a tally of 1 goal every 1.9 games and in Premier League terms he has an even more impressive 1 in 1.7. I’ll be interested to see what Rooney has done by the time he reaches 559 games but, with his best years behind him and his transformation from a striker to a number 10 to a creative midfielder to a defensive midfielder or whatever he is now, I’d be very surprised if he improves on his 1 goal in 2.2 tally.
Based on the statistics I’ve unveiled above I don’t think Rooney deserves to overtake Shearer as he clearly isn’t as good a goalscorer. I also think he isn’t as good a person. Shearer married his childhood sweetheart and has never had his personal life plastered all over the tabloids. Rooney lived his early life in them. When he wasn’t smashing in goals he was spending his time with grannies and prostitutes, or a combination of the two.
Wayne Rooney has managed to become England’s all time top goalscorer. People will say he hasn’t deserved that. He’s scored lots of goals against lesser teams but never turned up to a major tournament since he was 17. It is still an accomplishment to have scored that many goals for England and he deserves respect for that. I just don’t think as a person or a footballer he should take Shearer’s crown.
I feel such pride in the all time Premier League top scorer being a Newcastle legend that spent 10 years of his career loyally battling for his home town club. Fans of other clubs slate him for not winning anything for us but in 30 years time will people remember someone like Dwight Yorke? He was an excellent player who won three successive titles at the Red Devils but there are lots of strikers who have won the Premier League, when enough time passes a lot of them will be forgotten by all but the most fanatical football fans.
Everyone will remember Alan Shearer because he’ll be right up there in the scoring charts.
I’m not saying he’ll keep that mantle forever and I exhaled a huge sigh of relief when Thierry Henry departed for Barcelona. I felt at the time he was capable of taking the crown.
There’s absolutely no doubt, looking at what he’s done since, that Cristiano Ronaldo could have done it.
Then again, I guess you could argue Shearer would have amassed even more goals had the Premier League started earlier and he hadn’t suffered those injuries. That’s just football I suppose. I would love to glimpse into an alternate reality where Shearer doesn’t suffer that broken leg. Does he go on to score more than 300 goals? Do we win something?
I’d like the record to stay intact as long as possible and if/when it does get beaten, wouldn’t it be lovely if it was someone who spent some/most of their career at Newcastle?
You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin