Ronald Koeman says Wayne Rooney proved he is "still one of the best in his position" after he ensured Everton got off to a winning start in the Premier League.
Rooney left Manchester United after 13 medal-laden years in the summer to rejoin the Toffees, and he inspired them to victory in his first league appearance for the club in 4,837 days.
The forward scored a first-half winner at the end of a fine team move to secure a 1-0 victory over Stoke and impressed his manager with his all-round display at Goodison Park.
He shows that he’s still one of the best in his position, Koeman said.
I think he was different class in ball possession – he was comfortable on the ball, he took right, good decisions on the ball and he scored a great goal. And you cannot ask more [than] that.
Asked if he brought to the team exactly what he wanted, Koeman said: Yeah, that’s what you like.
You like to have players in the team with a lot of a cleverness on the pitch and that they know, they see and they handle what they need to do at a certain moment. That was his best game so far.
Rooney had already made his competitive return for Everton against MFK Ruzomberok in the third qualifying round of the Europa League – a competition he won with United last season.
The 31-year-old could be key if his side are to go far in the tournament this term and Koeman sees him as an important influence on the group, especially his young, promising players.
That’s experience, he told evertontv. He played a long time out of the highest level in football. He won titles and of course that’s a big experience.
We have some young players, they need to learn, they need to improve and they have a really good teacher – not always in talking but also what he is showing on the pitch.