LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Everton manager Ronald Koeman said Wayne Rooney, who scored on his return to the club in the 1-0 win over Stoke on Saturday, was far from a spent force and showed exactly why he was the right signing for the club.
Rooney’s move back to his boyhood club, after 13 successful years at Manchester United, divided opinion between those who viewed it as a welcome romantic return and those who felt he was not the right player for Koeman’s new-look side.
But in his first Premier League outing Rooney not only scored the winner with a beautifully executed header from a Dominic Calvert-Lewin cross, but he also exuded quality and composure throughout.
“There was one player in an Everton shirt today who was, from the first second to the last, comfortable on the pitch,” said the Dutch manager.
“He made every decision the right one and he scored a great goal from a great cross from Dominic.
“In difficult moments, he showed his experience. That is why we signed Wayne — expecting to show his team-mates all that experience, and it was really important,” he said.
Rooney last scored a goal for Everton at Goodison on March 13, 2004 when he claimed the winner against Portsmouth.
That gap of 4,869 days is the longest between goals for the same club in the Premier League. The header was his 300th involvement in a goal in the Premier League, with 101 assists to add to his 199 goals. Only Alan Shearer, with 324, has more.
And he joined Shearer and Frank Lampard with the most goals on the league’s opening day - eight.
Koeman not only believes that Rooney fits perfectly into his plans at Everton, but he also thinks he is far from the faded force that many felt he was becoming at United.
“Wayne showed he is still one of the best players in his position and he showed today the player that we expected,” said Koeman.
“A lot of cleverness on the pitch and a great goal and a great header. We can’t ask for more than he showed today.”
Reporting by Simon Evans,; Editing by Neville Dalton