Wayne Rooney fired another blank against Aston Villa on Friday night, taking his Manchester United goal drought to a worrying eight games.
Louis van Gaal was forced to defend his captain, reaffirming his faith in the 29-year-old's ability to be his main striker this season.
However, underneath the surface bubbles real concern that Rooney is approaching exhaustion before the season has even really got going.
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A report by Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel claims that those closest to the Red Devils captain are growingly aware that Rooney is approaching a tipping point and may never experience the same physical fitness as years gone by.
Having started his career so young, representing England at Euro 2004 as an 18-year-old before becoming a key first-team star for Manchester United before his 21st birthday, some fear that Rooney is now paying the price for his years of intense battling.
The article mentions that Rooney is looking more and more like a spent force with every season. It is not just the physical demands being placed on him but the mental ones as well.
He has dragged Manchester United since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 and has done something similar for the whole of his England career.
With that in mind, there is obviously real concern with Van Gaal's decision to make Rooney Manchester United's main striker, leaving him exposed to criticism as both a captain and a goal scorer.
With Ryan Giggs playing until he was 40, Manchester United fans could be forgiven for thinking Rooney will be available for years to come. But it is clear to those close to him that his body is already starting to fray from a 13 years of pressure.
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