After a stale start to the season, Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United future has been cast into doubt.
The Red Devils captain has been reduced to the bench by Jose Mourinho and has found the net just once in 2016-17. It appears the 30-year-old is unable to snap out of an unhealthy cycle that began under Louis van Gaal.
In light of augmented speculation though, Mourinho has responded. In fact, the Portuguese tactician has made a categorical decision about his captain’s future ahead of the trip to Chelsea.
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Rooney’s decline in form is nothing new. The writing had been on the wall long before Mourinho’s arrival, but many thought the introduction of the Special One would help revive the 30-year-old’s performances.
After all, the 53-year-old showed admirable initial faith in his captain and it appeared to pay off when, on the opening weekend, Rooney found the net against Bournemouth. He hasn’t scored since though.
Furthermore, Mourinho has only selected the Englishman in his starting XI once since the 3-1 collapse away to Watford. Embarrassingly also, that sole start came on a Thursday night in the Europa League.
Such dire form has prompted rumours of an Old Trafford departure despite 12 years and 246 goals in a Red Devils jersey.
This speculation has been accentuated by the fact, as per The Sun, Chinese side Shanghai SIPG are said to be interested in the forward’s signature. Moreover, the reported deal would see Rooney earn an unprecedented £500,000-a-week.
Consequently, it’s clear to see how the England captain could be tempted into a move away, especially if his first team expulsion extends.
However, Mourinho has been keen to reassure that under no circumstances will he sell Rooney as Manchester United boss.
In an interview with Sky Sports, the 53-year-old was asked whether he would ever relinquish his captain and replied: "No, never.
"I will never make that decision. A player of his stature, a player of his history in the club will never go to point where club or manager want to make that decision for him.
"I put him [Rooney] on the bench for three matches in a row. That is hard for him, hard for me, so that is being ruthless, to put in my mind the interests of the team in front of the player, prestige, status. In this case even legend. To put on bench a player with the numbers he has for club and country is hard.
"But as we were saying before, this is an industry where the people who leads, sometimes in a correct decision, sometimes not correct decisions, but in our mind the decisions we think is the best for the team."
Therefore, regardless of whether the man himself wants to leave or the fans to do too, he won’t be allowed to do so on Mourinho’s watch.
Amid all the criticism and struggles, the Special One has stuck his neck out and backed his captain. The Portuguese’s patience can only extend so much though and if Rooney is to resurrect his United career, he must do so sooner rather than later.
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