What a difference 12 months makes at Old Trafford?

What Wayne Rooney has gained in hair, he has certainly lost in weight.

Our number 1 striker looks leaner, quicker and all around better this season than he did at the start of last season, in short Rooney is on fire.

He has impressed no end during pre-season, and carried this into the start of the EPL with a top class performance against West Brom.

With a slight injury crisis in defence, our ability to score goals is more important than ever, and Rooney looks more than capable of doing just that. He looks much sharper than he did at the start of last season and an all-round better, happier player. With his return to form at the tail end of last season and the pre season he has had, big things are certainly going to be expected of Wayne yet again this season and the difference is that, unlike last season, Rooney looks more than capable of delivering.

Gone are the contract disputes and marital problems, and in their place is not a worried young man concerned his world is about to fall apart, but a motivated and hungry player who is determined to live up to the reputation that was thrust on him at such a young age at Everton.

Rooney was hailed a future world player of the year, leader of the national team and general talisman for any team he played for and although to some extent Rooney has established himself as a top player, it has not been to the level than former team mate Cristiano Ronaldo achieved – when both at Old Trafford Rooney was positively overshadowed by the Portuguese player, and Rooney certainly is not to the level of a Leo Messi, or a Xavi or Inesta.

Yet this season he looks like he could really make the transition into that league of player.

The relationship Rooney he has struck up with Hernandez will play some part in this as the two appear to bring the best out of each other. The two hold an understanding that enables the other to know where the ball is being played to and provide each other with as many assists as goals.

Rooney is the top man at United and is expected to perform to such a high standard week in week out. Whilst that may not have been the case last term, this season certainly looks like it can be the one where Rooney really steps up and announces to the world just how good he is. People have often questioned if Rooney is captain material, at both club and international level, and this season gives him a chance to display ability wise as well as mentality wise he is maturing.

Rooney has not been without his moments in the past, getting sent off for clapping at the referee in a Champion’s League game, throwing tantrums, swearing at the camera etc.

His past indiscretions off the field also raise questions over this, yet his words belied a maturity when speaking on the contract saga and his actions in the aftermath of his personal problems show a man with a good head on his shoulders trying to right his previous wrongs.

At 25 he is growing up and this will translate on field, if it does Rooney certainly deserves absolution.

Whether they boy is a natural born skipper remains to be seem, but he is certainly a natural born goal scorer and looks like making this season his own and showing just how good he really is.

Article courtesy of Rebecca Knight of The Busby Way