EPL

Gerrard and Lineker pay tribute to Man Utd and England great Rooney following retirement

By Sports Desk January 15, 2021

Wayne Rooney called time on one of the greatest playing careers in English football on Friday, vowing: "I wouldn't change a thing."

Since springing to prominence with a stunning goal as a 16-year-old for Everton against Arsenal in 2002, Rooney has achieved feat after feat in the game.

He retires as the record scorer for both Manchester United and England, having won 120 caps and captained his country, and will focus on his new full-time job as manager of Derby County.

Gary Lineker, third on England's all-time goalscoring list behind Rooney and Bobby Charlton, said the new Rams boss had enjoyed "a truly wonderful career on the field".

What is clear is that the 35-year-old Rooney is relishing a career in management, and he has shown impressive early aptitude, with Derby conceding only four goals and losing just twice in their nine league matches under his caretaker leadership.

"For me, to try and help the club get back to its glory days is a massive opportunity," Rooney said.

"My future is in management. I’ve had a great career with a few ups and a few downs, but I wouldn't change anything. But now, I'd like to write some history in my managerial career.

"My whole life has been playing football, so I'm fortunate that I'm still part of it. It's a new chapter for me.

"Will I miss playing? Of course. But, time doesn't stop. I've had my time, it's time for the younger generation to have their time and for me to guide them."

Former England team-mate Steven Gerrard, who is now managing title-chasing Rangers in Scotland, said it had been an "honour" to play alongside Rooney and wished him "good luck" at Derby.

Rooney, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Championship club, is close to lifting Derby out of the relegation zone having taken over at a time when they sat rooted to the foot of the table.

His last competitive match as a player, assuming there is no U-turn, will have been the 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough on November 25.

He won five Premier League titles with United, along with a Champions League and FA Cup and EFL Cup successes, and in the 2009-10 season he was named PFA Player of the Year.

During his Old Trafford career, which ran from 2004 to 2017, he scored 253 goals, while he netted 53 for England.

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    Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets believes his side deserved more after losing 2-1 to Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season 2-1 on Sunday.

    David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez gave Madrid a 2-0 lead before Sergio Aguero grabbed a late consolation for Barca deep into added time.

    The defeat was Barca's fourth consecutive Clasico defeat across all competitions - their longest losing run in the fixture since seven losses in a row between April 1962 and February 1965.

    Busquets, 33, felt that the Blaugrana should not have ended up on the losing side, but were undone by conceding the first goal.

    "They got it right in the first part and we didn't," Busquets said to Barca TV post-match. "We knew they were going to let us have the ball but they had speed with Rodrigo and Vinicius.

    "In a team with these characteristics, when you lose the ball it is difficult to recover. And they have scored a goal in a kick, not in a play. That changes the game completely. I don't think we deserved to lose, but that's football.

    "When there are games of these characteristics, the one who scores first has the advantage. In the second half, we had possession and control, but we had not made clear chances."

    Busquets refused to blame the referee for the result and insisted that Barca remain positive despite being five points behind the top three.

    "Yes, I have seen [the controversial incidents], but it does not matter," Busquets continued. "The referee has been good in general lines and I am not going to respond to the controversies.

    "A small gap [in the table] is opening but I think we are growing little by little. Now we are going to recover Ousmane who will give us things in attack. We have to continue."

    Barca head coach Ronald Koeman - who has now lost five games against Real Madrid (three) and Atletico Madrid (two), as many as in the previous nine seasons in the competition - agreed with his veteran midfielder, insisting that his men played well but that going behind allowed their opponents to play on the break.

    "It is always difficult to understand a result like this because we made merits to have another result, especially in the first half," Koeman said. 

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    In three games against Barca for Bayern Munich, Alaba enjoyed a 100 per cent win record.

    Bayern scored 15 goals and conceded just two across those matches, eight of those coming in Die Roten's incredible Champions League quarter-final win of 2020.

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    Alaba opens his account in style

    Alaba's goal, his first since joining Madrid, was one worthy of winning a fixture of such magnitude. Having won the ball from Memphis Depay on the edge of his own box, he surged forward before finding Vinicius Junior on the left flank.

    The former Bayern star initially wanted the return pass but Vinicius eschewed that option, instead playing a superb ball to Rodrygo Goes in the centre.

    Rodrygo's pass to find Alaba continuing his charge was inch-perfect, only bettered by the quality of a blistering finish from just inside the area.

    Barca struggled to deal with Madrid's threat down the left flank throughout, Vinicius taking the chance to emerge as the star of a Clasico absent its departed modern-day leading man.

    Vinicius shines in the spotlight

    Vinicius went into the fixture having scored seven goals and provided the assist for three in all competitions. He did not add to either of those tallies but his influence across the Brazilian's 87 minutes on the pitch was obvious,

    Ensuring Sergino Dest endured a difficult afternoon at both ends of the pitch, Vinicius attempted a game-high eight dribbles, four of which were successful.

    No player on the field participated in (20) or won more duels (10) as Vinicius excelled at putting Barca under pressure.

    Only Depay (six) and Ansu Fati (seven) had more touches in the opposition box, yet Barca's inability to make the most of those touches was telling.

    Barca bereft of attacking inspiration

    Alaba's shot that gave Madrid the lead had an Expected Goals (xG) value of 0.08, reflecting the difficulty he should have had in beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

    It came seven minutes after Dest had blazed high over the crossbar with the goal seemingly at his mercy from close range. Barca did not have a chance as presentable until Sergio Aguero scored with a point-blank effort from effectively the final kick of the game after Lucas Vazquez had put it to bed with Madrid's second goal.

    Barca finished with 12 shots but only two on target. Madrid hit the target with five of their 10 efforts. Nine of Barca's shots came from inside the box but they ended a frustrating encounter with only two 'big chances' compared to three for Los Blancos.

    Those numbers are reflective of a game in which, without Messi there to stretch Madrid's shape, Carlo Ancelotti's men succeeded in staying deep and compact and hitting Barca on the counter, which they twice did to devastating effect.

    When Barca got into the final third, the lack of creativity and threat in contrast to Madrid was startling.

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    The final score may have looked tight but, in the post-Messi era, the gap between Barca and their arch-rivals is a chasm.

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    United were blown away as they went in at half-time four goals down for the first time in a Premier League game, making it all too easy for the Reds as Naby Keita and Diogo Jota were on target before Salah struck twice.

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    Salah completed his treble five minutes into the second half, racing onto Jordan Henderson's incisive pass before beating De Gea with a clinical left-foot finish after Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for offside.

    United's day took yet another turn for the worse when Pogba was dismissed for a reckless lunge on Keita following a VAR check, having initially been shown a yellow card on the hour mark.

    Keita was unable to continue and the United players look like they would rather not, as only a brilliant save from De Gea prevented Alexander-Arnold adding a sixth.

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