Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho made the decision to drop Wayne Rooney to the bench against Leicester City on Saturday. The move paid off spectacularly as a late first-half blitz saw the Red Devils annihilate the defending champions.
Goals from Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba helped Man United to a 4-1 victory over Leicester City at Old Trafford. The performance came as a welcome surprise for United fans after the Red Devils had lost back to back Premier League matches against Manchester City and Watford.
One of the most significant changes to the starting lineup this past weekend was the exclusion of captain Wayne Rooney, who come on as a late substitute in the match long after the three points had been made safe.
Although Rooney is set to start in the Red Devils’ next game — a Europa League tie against Ukrainian minnows FC Zorya Luhansk — he is unlikely be a guaranteed first team starter in the coming weeks.
According to a report in the Mirror, Rooney has come to terms with this. The report states that the 30-year-old is willing to see out the two years that remain on his contract as a squad player. This is a huge development in the career of a player who was hitherto seen as Mr. Manchester United.
Rooney has arguably been in decline for a couple of seasons now. However, during that time he has broken the record for highest number of goals for England and is closing in on Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time goal scoring record for Manchester United as well.
The Englishman’s legendary career has shielded him from a lot of criticism in recent times. The voices that have expressed concern over his decline have gradually increased though, and the performance of the Red Devils without their captain has made things even more difficult for Rooney.
The 30-year-old has lacked the pace, precision and power that helped him earn a multi-million pound move to Old Trafford as a teenager. Successive managers have tried playing him in different positions with equally poor results. Rooney will undoubtedly still be the leader in the dressing room and hungry to prove everyone wrong, but as things stand, the forward will have to come to terms with relinquishing the role of the main man.