A video emerged in March 2015 of Rooney and Bardsley, at that point a Sunderland player, squaring up to each other with boxing gloves on in Wayne’s kitchen. Coleen must have been at her parent’s or something.
Out of seemingly nowhere, Bardsley produces a brutal left-hand jab, leaving Rooney unconscious even before the back of his head thuds on the marble-like floor. Watching this video for the first time, I genuinely thought Rooney had died. My childhood hero. Dead. From a punch from a Sunderland full-back.
Some managers would have taken serious action against a player involved in such a video. Not Van Gaal. The Dutchman, I can imagine, took great joy out of seeing a good old-fashioned informal kitchen knockout in full swing, with the only negative remarks perhaps coming in the shape of critiquing Rooney’s lack of defence and poor head positioning.
In the following game, a 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, Rooney played superbly and scored a wonderful solo goal, driving through the heart of the Spurs defence and sliding the ball past Hugo Lloris. In celebration, the United captain produced a quick air-punch combo before falling flat on his back once again. It was another trademark moment from a player whose attitude this current team desperately misses.