Wayne Rooney needed to do something spectacular against Zorya to get himself back in Jose Mourinho’s good books.
The England international started the game on the bench, as he did against Leicester City last weekend, and there were growing signs that Rooney was slowly being phased out of Mourinho’s plans.
Mourinho admitted that he named Rooney, who has been struggling with a back injury, in his squad because he hoped he could make a difference, and the 31-year-old did exactly that.
Rooney came on in the 67th minute with United drawing 0-0. Two minutes later they were 1-0 up, and they had Rooney to thank for supplying the assist.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was an assist nonetheless. We’re not sure whether Rooney was attempting to shoot or cross but, regardless, his cross-shot ended up bouncing perfectly for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to head home his sixth goal of the season.
The Swede had failed to score in his past four games and so will have been delighted to get on the scoresheet.
Rooney’s assist means the debate will rage on about his inclusion in the United team. The Red Devils were clinical without him against Leicester but scored within two minutes of his arrival this evening.
He’s certainly given Mourinho a headache.
The Portuguese will, however, be delighted to see Rooney creating goals, however ugly they are. His demotion to the bench could spark an upturn in form, in which case Mourinho will have no doubt but to include him.