It is going back 10 years now since Old Trafford had its first hard look at Wayne Rooney and the stardust was so obvious, the overwhelming sense that this wunderkind held the keys to the football universe, there is a question that has to be asked before he heads to the Santiago Bernabéu.

He was 16, still 12 days away from announcing his arrival in English football with that epic goal against Arsenal, and nobody really thought too much of it when the electronic board went up to signal that Everton were bringing on a substitute and Tomasz Radzinski was going off.

What followed was extraordinary. Think of the way Gareth Bale slalomed through the Norwich City defence for Spurs a few weeks ago. All power and balance and body swerve and sheer competitive courage. Rooney was inside his own half when he took the ball, six minutes after coming on, and accelerated in a way that just does not happen any more. He went past Ryan Giggs first. His body strength batted Mikaël Silvestre out of the way and he was going at full tilt by the time he powered past Paul Scholes.

Suddenly, out of nothing, he had taken out three opponents and was clean through, bearing down on goal, under the Manchester United floodlights.

We called him the assassin-faced baby back then. His shot went straight to Fabien Barthez but the boy with the neck of a backstreet bouncer looked like he wanted to take on the world. It was his next game when he flashed the last-minute shot past David Seaman and launched himself full-on into that upward trajectory that meant, by 18, he was already a fully confirmed superstar. People tend to roll their eyes now when they remember Sven-Goran Eriksson saying Rooney could be the white Pelé but, in the long evenings of Euro 2004, not everyone in the England manager's company felt his eulogy bordered on recklessness. It was true: Rooney was wonderful.

So here's the thing: why has he not turned out to be the player we wanted him to be? As good as he is – and let's make it clear, he's some player – is it such an outlandish statement to say we might have expected more bearing in mind how incredibly exciting it all was back then?

This is not a straightforward subject because, plainly, Rooney has accumulated an outstanding portfolio of work before Everton's latest visit to Old Trafford and the considerable matter of Wednesday's game against Real Madrid. At the age of 27, his goal against Brazil takes him to 33 in 79 internationals, fifth in the all-time list of England scorers. If he stays fit, he should have aspirations about becoming the first player to reach 100 caps before he turns 30. Around the same time, there is a good chance he will be bearing down on Sir Bobby Charlton's 49 goals.

Expect him to become United's record scorer within three more seasons, possibly sooner. Rooney, with 194 goals, has only Jack Rowley and Denis Law above him before he targets Charlton on 249. A medal count featuring four Premier League titles, one Champions League and three League Cups confirms that we are talking here about a player of class and achievement, a serial champion who will walk into the bear pit of the Bernabéu and not bat an eyelid.

There is no shame either, you may think, that he has not been able to keep up with Cristiano Ronaldo, even if it is the case that Rooney was once the better player, or that José Mourinho's planning will probably be more influenced by trying to negate the threat of Robin van Persie now the Dutchman has taken over as United's talisman.

It is just there are times, surely, when it is possible to appreciate a footballer's gifts but still want more, and if that sounds at all greedy, or unappreciative, it is only because there was once a point when Rooney made us feel he would automatically take star billing on these great occasions. As it has turned out, he has thrilled us and seduced us more times than we can probably remember but still never quite reached the exhilarating peaks he did in Euro 2004.

The paradox is that there are considerable parts of Rooney's game that have improved. His finishing could be unrefined in the early years. In his first couple of seasons in United's colours he would snatch at chances and a look of revulsion would cross his face. He is much more accurate now. His football intelligence has enhanced and, for the most part, he has found a way of building a brick wall round that febrile temper.

What we have now is a prolific scorer who will cover every blade of turf if it means helping his colleagues, to the point where it is almost the norm to see him popping up in the left-back spot at least once every match. A few weeks ago at Spurs, where the press box is directly behind the dugouts, there was something incredibly revealing about witnessing, close up, what happened after Van Persie opened the scoring. Rooney was not in the team, watching from the edges as the new hero took the acclaim. Yet it was Rooney wearing a sunrise of a smile and punching the air the most vigorously out of all the substitutes and coaching staff. It was a telling insight into his priorities and the togetherness of the squad Sir Alex Ferguson will take to Madrid. If United are to make it past Mourinho's team, one suspects they will need every ounce of that comradeship.

Rooney will certainly head to Spain in productive form, with 11 goals in his past 11 appearances, and though he has not been able to leave a lasting impression on his three Champions League finals, Milan, Internazionale, Roma, Arsenal and Schalke can all testify that he has a habit of producing big performances in the knockout rounds.

Equally, it is not always easy to know what to expect of Rooney these days. His scoring bursts have been interspersed with indifferent spells, erratic enough to fuel the sense that a little of the stardust may be wearing off. His penalty-taking is a case in point. Not the biggest issue, perhaps, but an A-list centre-forward should not be suffering the ignominy of being so unreliable that his manager removes the responsibility for good.

Perhaps the hype went too far and, looking back, it was not fully realistic to expect that at this stage of his professional life, a decade after breaking into the Everton side, a player of his build would still have the same incredible ability to surge past opponents. Maybe the spark was coached out of him as United tried to smooth out the rough edges and mould him into a more complete footballer. Possibly it is a combination of the two. All that can be said with certainty is that there was once a time when he would have engulfed the Bernabéu with the kind of apprehension that Ronaldo will inspire at Old Trafford for the return leg. He is now a mere speck in Ronaldo's wing-mirrors.

The young Rooney had raw, explosive qualities that could bewitch his audience and make traffic cones out of defenders. He had that splash of je ne sais quoi – Luis Suárez has a sprinkling of the same – that meant there was a frisson of excitement every time he had the ball in front of him. It was the power of his running, the way he would immediately drive forwards, no matter who was in his way, that made you quicken your step on the way to see him play. It was an epic sight and it's a pity, however successful his story, that we tend to talk about those moments now in the past tense.

Davies back for more belligerence in Carry on Kuwait

The problem for Nottingham Forest is that they now have a chairman who fancies himself as a would-be manager and a manager who fancies himself as a would-be chairman. Perhaps the new regime of Fawaz al-Hasawi and Billy Davies will work but it is a combustible mix and something might have to give if it is not going to be another passing romance.

Davies lasted two and a half years at Forest before he wore down the previous regime with his Scrappy Doo-style belligerence, always looking for a row and permanently dissatisfied with the people above him. Mutual contempt, you could call it. "I'd have had him against the wall if he behaved like that with me," as one Championship chairman put it at the time. He is now rejoining a club where the previous bloke, Alex McLeish, wanted a new goalkeeper and asked for Rob Green, Lukasz Fabianski or Paul Robinson. Hasawi helpfully delivered the guy from the Kuwait national team instead.

Hasawi, meanwhile, has employed a PR firm to try to help restore some credibility after the bashing that accompanies being on his fourth manager since July, not to mention firing virtually the entire board, all that George Boyd silliness and various other embarrassments. Good luck to him, too, because Forest have endured enough, post-Brian Clough, without becoming football's equivalent of Carry On Kuwait.

The message from Hasawi is that it is not true that he interferes with team selection or dictates transfer targets. He did, however, also insist recently there was no issue with McLeish. "We have a very good working relationship and it troubles me greatly that people think otherwise." That was four days before McLeish quit.

Hasawi certainly does not do things the orthodox way judging by Sean O'Driscoll turning up for one afternoon meeting and apparently finding the Forest owner in his pyjamas. Forest recently spent £1m on two giant screens for the City Ground. Very nice, too. Yet the groundstaff were apparently told they could not have new frost mats because they were too expensive.

Keep your eye on this one.

Minute's silence has had its day … sadly

Sad as it is, we are reaching the stage when the Football Association should probably put an end to the practice of holding a minute's silence and, if that opens them to allegations of giving in to the idiots, then so be it. Anything would be better than the excruciating 60 seconds of grade-A buffoonery we had to endure before England's game against Brazil.

Wembley really surpassed itself when a tribute for Bobby Moore (his widow was one of the guests, by the way), the 238 people killed in the Rio nightclub fire and the 55th anniversary of the Munich air disaster resulted in people on all sides of the stadium shouting over one another.

Fair play to the FA for wanting to do the right thing but it seems like we spend most of these events tensely waiting for the first shout rather than actually thinking about the reasons we have been asked to rise to our feet.

After that, it never stops at one. It's not just a few birdbrains in an average Wembley crowd – there are dozens of them.

The best alternative? A minute's applause is a safe option although, let's face it, everyone knows the only reason they are being asked to clap is because the crowd as a whole cannot be trusted to keep schtum.

Which can feel pretty unsatisfactory, too. Otherwise, maybe the FA should carry on as they are – but start publishing pictures of the offenders. Who knows? It might just shut up a few people.