How do you solve a problem like Wayne Rooney?
Well, according to Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate in recent weeks, the answer is to leave him on the bench.
The 30-year-old had to make do with a place on the substitutes bench for United’s matches against Leicester City, Zorya Luhansk and Stoke City, while he was also dropped for the Three Lions’ World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
But with the titanic clash against Liverpool coming up, surely Rooney would be re-installed into the starting line-up. As an Evertonian, the striker loves to hate the red half of Merseyside and would enjoy nothing more than to silence all his critics with the winner at Anfield - something he managed last season.
However, it seems that the only way he’s going to do that is by coming on as a substitute.
That’s because, according to the Mirror, the United captain will be named on the bench once again for the titanic clash on Monday Night Football.
Monday’s edition of the newspaper features the back page headline of ‘Pain Rooney’ and suggests that he won’t be starting in one of the biggest fixtures of the season.
Ahead of the clash, Mourinho hinted that he wanted to allow Rooney ‘to recover’ from the criticism he has received recently about his performances.
“I think what you could hurt, you did already,’ said Mourinho.
“I don’t think you can do more. So I think in this moment it is time for him to recover from what was done to him and the best place for him to do that is feeling like he feels at home here.”
However, the United boss expects Rooney to prove his critics wrong, adding: “I’m not saying that he is low. You can hurt me but you can’t put me down — I think he’s the same.”
Dropping Rooney for matches against Leicester, Zorya Luhansk and Stoke is one thing, dropping him for a massive clash against Liverpool is something completely different.
We can’t imagine Rooney being too impressed if he’s sitting on the bench come 8:00pm on Monday night.