Wayne Rooney has quickly become the scapegoat in the early days of Jose Mourinho's reign as Manchester United manager.
The England captain has been far from his best so far this campaign and has come in for huge amounts of criticism from Red Devils supporters - either because he isn't doing his job, or preventing a teammate from doing it for him by taking up a place in the starting XI.
Now, though, less 24 hours after he started for United against Northampton alongside a number of the Old Trafford club's second string, Rooney has hit back at his critics in an interview with MUTV.
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"That’s football, I think," the veteran forward said when asked about the flack he and the team have come in for over the past 10 days or so.
"We don’t win in three games and, of course, everyone is going to talk about it. We had a bad week, a bad eight days where we’ve lost three games, and it’s important now we react well to that and come through that."
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However, whilst his teammates - including world record signing Paul Pogba - have been called out in defeats to Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford, it is Rooney who has born the brunt of fan and media frustration.
It doesn't sound like the 30-year-old is going to let it get to him, though.
"Yeah, I think I’ve had that my whole career – a little bit more of late, I think, but that’s football.
"I listen to my coaches and my team-mates, the people around me, and I don’t really listen to what a lot of people out there are saying because a lot of it is rubbish.
"I have to focus, work hard, of course, and I’ve done that throughout my career. I’ve worked hard and tried to do my best for the team."
One of the major sticks with which fans have beat Rooney with in recent weeks has been his tendency to drop so deep to collect the ball - effectively abandoning his forward position for large spells of the game.
Once again, however, Rooney wasn't going to give in to his critics as he championed his versatile game.
"I’ve done that [played in different positions] throughout my career.
"I feel I can play in all positions but I think the manager has made it clear either I’ll play up front or in the no.10 and that’s where he sees me playing.
"As I said before, it’s not just myself – the whole team is going in and working hard. We had a bad week but we’ve been working hard to put that right."
Whether Rooney's words will be enough to convince his detractors, only time will tell.
However, with reports suggesting he could be dropped for United's league fixture against Leicester City this weekend, it might be Mourinho he needs to convince first before the fans.
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