Wayne Rooney could be forgiven for thinking that nothing has gone right for him since he ended his long and frustrating wait to lay his hands on the FA Cup last season.
When the Manchester United captain lifted the famous trophy at Wembley following the 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace last May, he completed his set of domestic honours and claimed the one major honour — the Europa League having been an irrelevance for the majority of his United career — that had repeatedly eluded him since arriving at Old Trafford in August 2004.
A month before leading England at Euro 2016, it could have been the launch pad for a glorious summer in France, with the sense of fulfilment at club level enabling Rooney to push for the international success that has been a stranger to every English footballer for more than a half century.
But the European Championship last summer was a nightmare for Rooney and England, culminating in the humiliating round-of-16 exit against Iceland, and it seems that the whole experience has inflicted lasting damage on a player who begins 2017 approaching a crossroads in his career.
Since returning from France, Rooney has found himself searching not only for form, but an answer to where he will play out the rest of his playing days.
Jose Mourinho has derided Roy Hodgson’s decision to deploy Rooney as a deep-lying midfielder — “He will be a No. 9, a No. 10, a No. 9.5, but never a No. 6 or a No. 8,” the Portuguese insisted on his unveiling as United manager last summer — but Rooney himself has made it clear that he no longer sees himself as a centre-forward.
The last six months have simply brought confusion and doubt for Rooney, but as 2017 begins, it is now crucial for the 31-year-old to emerge from the fog of uncertainty because his United careAdder depends on it.
Having been sidelined for the past fortnight with a thigh injury, Rooney is rated at 50-50 to be fit to face Reading when United begin their defence of the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday.
But once he returns to action, he simply has to draw the line under a miserable period of his career, accept that his goal-scoring instinct continues to be his greatest asset and get on with proving to Mourinho and United that he deserves not only to remain at the club but to reclaim his once unquestioned place on the team.
Since returning from Euro 2016, Rooney has scored just three goals in 22 appearances for United, with only one of those coming in the Premier League, back on the opening day of the season in August.
He has also voiced his desire to be given the chance to make the transition to a new position to enable him to extend his career in a similar fashion to how former United teammates Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes played on beyond their mid-30s by performing in deeper roles.
But at United, it is difficult to see how Rooney can achieve that and where Mourinho could deploy him to allow the transition to take place.
Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are better options at No. 10, with Rooney not possessing the qualities of Michael Carrick or Ander Herrera to be able to displace either of those from the deeper-lying positions.
Even out wide, Mourinho has more reliable options, with the youthful energy and pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, or Jesse Lingard’s tenacity and forward bursts, proving more appealing than Rooney’s more measured, and less dynamic, approach.
United and Mourinho clearly need somebody to share the goal-scoring burden with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, however, considering that the Swede is 35 years old and confounding expectations by playing and scoring regularly since arriving on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain last summer.
If Rooney could regain his form and fitness and score just six to eight league goals between now and the end of the season, it could prove the difference between success and failure in United’s pursuit of Champions League qualification, or even provide the impetus for a tilt at the title.
His recent output suggests that will be a tall order, with Rooney scoring just 11 club goals in 2016. But much of last year was spent playing out of position or injured.
The next six months are huge for Rooney, however.
His United contract expires in June 2018, so he will expect some clear indication of the club’s intentions this summer.
Any failure to offer Rooney a new deal before the start of next season would be akin to United and Mourinho telling him that he is on trial, and a player of his standing and service to the club is unlikely to accept that situation.
But the reality is that Rooney’s recent contribution makes it inevitable that United will have their reservations over offering a new deal.
He will be approaching 33 when his current contract runs out, so Rooney must supply strong evidence that he will continue to be effective beyond that in order for United to keep him on the payroll.
Rooney will say that his pursuit of a new role and efforts to make that transition are being done with the intention of enabling him to offer something tangible to United for seasons to come.
But United and Mourinho still need the Rooney of old, the goal scorer who stands just one goal short of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time club record.
If he cannot show that the player of old is still inside him between now and the end of the season, then it is difficult to envisage Rooney in a United shirt next term.
There will be lucrative offers on the table from China and the chance to emulate the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Thierry Henry in Major League Soccer, but Rooney still has the ability to decide his own future at United.
And the best place to start would be with a goal and a match-winning performance against Reading on Saturday.
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