Wayne Rooney appears to have found himself at a major crossroads in his career as a Manchester United player but has taken little time in deciding how to deal with it.
Jose Mourinho answered vociferous calls for the 30-year-old to be dropped, naming him on the bench for Saturday's game against Leicester City.
The Red Devils were attempting to end a run of three straight defeats against the reigning Premier League champions and Rooney had been made somewhat of a scapegoat after disappointing performances against Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford.
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As it turned out, United put in arguably their best performance under Mourinho, thrashing the Foxes in a first-half blitz. They went into the break with a 4-0 lead and saw out a second-half surge from Demarai Gray and company to take a vital win.
And now we have all been left wondering exactly what it means for Rooney. It seems far too easy to conclude that he was the only source of the team's issues but having seen the likes of Paul Pogba and Juan Mata play so well, the weight of evidence for that argument is increasing.
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So, if Rooney, who has played over 800 professional games in his career, is to remain at Manchester Untied, it looks as though he will be spending a lot more time on the substitute's bench. For a player of his stature, that was always going to give him reason to consider his future.
However, according to The Mirror, he has already told those closest to him that he is more than willing to see out the remaining two years of his contract and hasn't ruled out extending it by a further year.
He is willing to accept that his days as United's main man are over and is ready to try his best adapting to the role of an impact substitute. He retains a very strong influence in the dressing room and there is no suggestion that he could lose the armband.
Winds of change
As always, Gary Neville hit the nail on the head whilst acting as a pundit for Sky Sports for the game. He was not surprised to see Rooney dropped and believes it signaled the start of a new phase in his career.
Neville challenged the striker to accept his fading power as an inevitability and said the likes of Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs have all done it before him.
“This is a transition into a new phase of his career, where he’s potentially got to play a different way,” said Neville.
“No player at 22 is the same at 32, 33, 34.
"If you look at Paul Scholes, he went from a marauding midfielder to a holding midfield player, Steven Gerrard the same, Ryan Giggs from a flying winger to a central midfield player.
“Rooney’s going through that period now. I think potentially there will be a little bit of relief for him, in the sense of the scrutiny around him in the last week. It’s how he reacts to it.
"There will come a point where he will have to make that decision of either playing every week or coming to that point in his career where he may come out of the team one week, then go back in and adapt to that type of position.”
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