Kevin Phillips of Sunderland was the last Englishman to win the English Premier League Golden Boot but Wayne Rooney of Manchester United must be a live contender 16 years on.
One came very close to writing an English Premier League Golden Boot article about Rooney a few weeks ago as one thought that the way in which Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal was operating in the transfer market meant that Rooney may end up starring for the Red Devils in a central striker role this term. Speaking during Manchester United’s pre-season tour of the United States of America, Van Gaal confirmed that he plans to use Rooney in that position, telling journalists that he had listened to them. Also, the Manchester United boss has said that his other transfer targets do not include someone to play as a striker.
Van Gaal’s public comments have seen bookmaker trim their odds about Rooney winning the English Premier League Golden Boot but the Manchester United captain remains available at +1600 with several satchel swingers, including BetVictor, Coral and Unibet, odds that appear perfectly reasonable.
As Rooney’s international record shows – 48 goals in 105 caps for England, making him his country’s second highest scorer – he knows how to find the back of the net when he plays as the key forward. And, despite Van Gaal deploying Rooney in midfield for large chunks of last term, Rooney ended the season as Manchester United’s leading marksman. Indeed, Rooney has been Manchester United’s top scorer in three of the last four terms, only giving way to Robin van Persie in the 2012-2013 season in which the Red Devils won the English Premier League by 11 points from Manchester City, scoring a division-high 86 goals in the process.
Rooney’s most prolific English Premier League campaigns wearing Manchester United’s colours occurred in 2009-2010 and 2011-2012 when he scored 26 and 27 top-flight goals respectively. At 29, Rooney is not over the hill so one rates his chance of equalling or exceeding his career personal best quite highly. Manchester United is likely to make more progress during Van Gaal’s second season at the helm, Rooney is likely to be its focal point in attack and, unlike most of the players high up the English Premier League Golden Boot betting list, he does not seem to have much in the way of an internal threat to his challenge.
Twenty-seven goals would have been sufficient to win three of the last English Premier League Golden Boot races, with the exceptions being Van Persie’s 2011-2012 victory with 30 goals in 38 games for Arsenal and Luis Suarez’s 2013-2014 triumph with 31 goals in 33 matches for Liverpool. One is not claiming that Rooney merits English Premier League Golden Boot favouritism but one does not see any reason why he should be four times the odds of Aguero, who is +300 .
The English Premier League fixture list means that Rooney has a good chance of getting off to a flier and opening up trading opportunities for punters who hold Golden Boot tickets on him. Manchester United’s first seven English Premier League games are scheduled to be Tottenham (home), Aston Villa (away), Newcastle (home), Swansea (away), Liverpool (home), Southampton (away) and Sunderland (home) before back-to-back tough trips to Arsenal and Everton.
One would be stunned if Manchester United does not improve markedly on its English Premier League goal tally in Van Gaal’s second term – last season’s 62 goals was unlike the Red Devils – and the scene is set for Rooney to get on the end of whatever his teammates – both new and old – create.
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