If you want to know how it feels to receive a boatload of criticism without really doing much wrong, just ask Wayne Rooney.
The Manchester United and England star has been pilloried for playing badly. Who would have guessed a player wouldn’t play as well at the age of 30 than he did when he was 25?
Rooney, who has been dropped by both club and country, hasn’t been helped by his constantly changing position. A move to centre midfield was deemed out of the equation by Jose Mourinho at the start of the season, but Rooney has occupied that position on occasions under the Portuguese.
When we look back on Rooney’s career, we will constantly ask whether he was deployed in the best possible position for the final years of his playing career. The short answer is no.
Gareth Southgate played Rooney in the middle of the park in England’s recent internationals, something that confused Sky Sports’ pundit Paul Merson.
“Where has this centre midfielder come from?” Merson asks, before admitting Rooney doesn’t have the legs to play the position and should instead play behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Man United.
Merson said what we're all thinking
It’s unlikely Mourinho, winner of two Champions League trophies, is about to listen to Merson, who had a fleeting spell in charge of Walsall more than a decade ago.
Yet Merson said what we are all thinking. He might not be good enough to start anymore, that’s fine. But he can still impact a game from the bench when playing in the number 10 position.