Football

'Everton is not my retirement home'

Rooney insists he can help Toffees end 22-year trophy drought

Returning Everton striker Wayne Rooney insists he had not gone stale at Manchester United and still has plenty to offer his boyhood club.

The 31-year-old signed a two-year deal after securing an emotional return to the club he left 13 years ago.

He has been quick to dismiss his critics who suggested his career was in terminal decline after struggling to secure a place in Jose Mourinho's first-choice side at Old Trafford.

"It hadn't gone stale (at United). I enjoyed my time there, but I needed to play more games," said Rooney, United and England's all-time leading goalscorer.

"I didn't play that often last season. I know I am at my best when I am playing games consistently.

"It is obviously frustrating. My whole career I have played and it was the first time I didn't play and I was on the bench.

"Obviously, I was the captain of Manchester United, so you need to keep yourself positive and make sure you are not bringing negativity to the dressing room.

"I spoke with Jose and I knew it was the right time to leave and go and play somewhere else and I firmly believe Everton is the right club to do that.

"Of course, there were other options but, once I knew Ronald (Koeman) wanted to bring me back, it was the only place I was going to play my football.

"I am not coming into a retirement home. I am ready to play, I want to win, I want to be successful at this football club."

Rooney has already set his sights on helping Everton end a trophy drought stretching back 22 years.

Of course there were other options but, once I knew Ronald (Koeman) wanted to bring me back, it was the only place I was going to play my football.] Wayne Rooney

He had outstanding success at United, winning 11 major trophies including the Champions League, Europa League and five Premier League titles.

"I was at the FA Cup final in 1995 when we won that and to win a trophy as a player at Everton would be a special moment," he added.

"It is too long (without a trophy). I feel the club are moving in the right direction. We will all pull together and make sure we give everything to do it.

"It is all right sitting here saying we want to win trophies, but it is on us as a football club to make sure we do that.

"We have to work hard and make sure we do that."

Rooney still retains hope of regaining his England place, although he admits that he must play his way into the reckoning with an improvement in form this season.

ENGLAND HOPES

"I am focused on playing well for Everton. If I do that, then (England manager) Gareth Southgate will have a decision to make whether he puts me back in the squad," he said.

"Hopefully, my performances will be good enough for Everton and he won't be able to ignore me."

Meanwhile, Everton boss Koeman feels the club's spending spree has signalled their intent to gatecrash the Premier League's top six.

The likes of Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaassen, Michael Keane and Sandro Ramirez had already been brought to Merseyside for a combined total of nearly £100 million (S$178.3m) when Rooney completed his romantic return to his boyhood club over the weekend.

Their arrivals are a declaration of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri's bid to upset the top-flight's established order.

"It is still too soon to talk about top four. What we'd like to do is continue what we did last season," Koeman said.

"Everyone is trying to get the best players. The big six in the Premier League will spend money as well, but it is a good signal to everybody that we are on board and will try to give them that competition that we didn't last season.

"Now it is up to the players, the management, the technical staff, everybody to show we are really strong and fight for it. It's really important to get the fitness right and the team right."

As impressive as Everton's summer recruitment drive looks on paper, they have just lost Romelu Lukaku who scored 25 of their 62 Premier League goals last season.

"We knew it was one of the challenges with Lukaku," added Koeman, who would not be drawn on either Ross Barkley's future or the possibility of signing Olivier Giroud or Gylfi Sigurdsson.

"He took the right decision and let's hope everything goes well for him because I like him, I like the player, but it is now about Everton." - WIRE SERVICES

wayne rooneyevertonepl