Saturday, March 25, 2023

Time For Mourinho To Drop Manchester United’s Biggest Under-performer From The First Team?

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Aakarsh Bommakanti
Was diving around lush green grass not so long ago but my keyboard is all I have now. An avid observer of detail in sports with a passion to make myself heard. Can find me playing on a field if not in front of my screen.

Manchester United fell to their third successive defeat in all competitions this past weekend when they failed to put more than one past Watford at the Vicarage Road on Sunday. It was a game that saw most United players under perform but one player who has taken the maximum blame is club skipper Wayne Rooney.

With stats like 0 chances created and 0 take ons completed, Rooney was one of the weakest links for the club in the game and was a liability that Mourinho was not ready to get rid of. He paid for it with the third loss in three games and it has now seen the fans call for an axe on Rooney’s place in the first team this season.

The club captain, the longest serving player in the team and the successor for the highest goals scored for the club, Rooney has shown a drastic demise in form for almost a year now. He still has the magical touch that has made him one of the best players in the world but such moments have become far and few in between and have not helped Manchester United enough to persist with him.

In the Watford game, Rooney, who is expected to take every ounce of free space on the field to create chances for his side, was often found losing the ball cheaply with the icing on the cake being his cross that hit a happy Watford fan in the stands. This was at a time when United needed to take every chance they got which showed that Rooney was better off the field than on it.

Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney walks from the pitch after losing the English Premier League football match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on September 18, 2016. / AFP / Adrian DENNIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

He is still a top class player who can create exciting moments to help his side in crunch games but his best years are behind him and he is now a player who needs to be used smartly to get the best out of him. However, his stature at the club has seen Mourinho (even the special one), think twice before dropping him or subbing off as was evident at the Vicarage Road. Juan Mata who came in as a sub replaced Antonio Valencia, who hardly did much wrong, should have been a like to like replacement for Wayne Rooney but Mourinho decided that Rooney’s name might be enough for his side to get at least a point.

None of it happened as Watford not only held on to their lead but also doubled it late in the game leaving the Red Devils with dejected expressions on their faces. It has been a long time since United lost 4 back to back matches and if they are to keep that record intact, a few changes to the squad may be mandatory. Starting with Wayne Rooney’s place (which should be non-existent) in the team, Mourinho has a number of big decisions to make ahead of the games next week.

It will be hard for Mourinho to drop his club captain but with no chance of pushing him into a central midfield role, Rooney will best serve his team from the bench. Marcus Rashford, the new enigma at Old Trafford will be the first choice to take his place in the squad leaving Zlatan Ibrahimović and Rashford as a two-man attack with either falling deep when needed. At the moment, Wayne Rooney does not look like he can give anything to this United squad and maybe it is time for his to turn into a super sub like he turned into a midfielder after failing to score goals in attack. A super sub that can affect games at the end and provide some much-needed energy in games that his teammates could not put to bed.

It will be hard to leave a player like Rooney regularly on the bench but if anyone can pull it off, Mourinho can. His reluctance to do so even after prolonged failures is what is astounding. It will be interesting to see if the Portuguese has had enough of him or if he still believes that Rooney will help them win games this season. Either way, United need a sharp change in their approach to the game to stay in the race for the title and Rooney is a hindrance at the moment.

Do you think Mourinho should drop Rooney for the next few games?

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