It wasn’t a very good night for Phil Neville, was it?
First, the former Everton defender, on punditry duty for Manchester United’s EFL Cup contest at Northampton, called Marcus Rashford ‘Michael’. Not once, either.
Minutes later, Neville defended the performance of one of the biggest problems at United currently: Wayne Rooney.
You only need to check Twitter every weekend to read what United fans think of their captain, who is repeatedly given opportunities despite his consistently poor performances.
Yet there seems to be a hesitancy to criticise Rooney. It’s clear that he isn’t playing well - some even think he is harming Paul Pogba’s influence - but Neville isn’t the first to shy away from mentioning the forward’s flaws.
Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Phil’s brother Gary have all stopped short of publicly criticising Rooney.
Perhaps it’s for all he’s done over the years. The 30-year-old is, after all, among England and United’s greatest ever players. Neville played with Rooney at Old Trafford before leaving for Everton, too.
Most thought Rooney was ineffective against Northampton, but Neville said he had done “okay” and blamed his inability to shine on his continuously changing position.
"He will start, for me, on Saturday [against Leicester City]," Neville told Sky Sports. "He's still an important player, but you can see in his performance he's not playing to the top level."
"His game is not flowing and things aren't coming easy to him. Tonight was important for him to get out there and play another 90 minutes. The worry is he ended up on the right wing again.
"The continuing change of positions will affect him. He wants to be a centre forward or a centre midfielder - he doesn't want to be stuck on the right wing. That's having a massive effect on his performance."
Manchester United fans reacted to Neville's assessment with some disdain.
Neville's thoughts on Rooney can be heard from 8:30 in the video below.
Rooney started as a lone striker in the 3-1 win, before moving to right-wing when Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were introduced.
His influence in either position was nowhere to be seen, however.
It was left to Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Rashford to score the goals that sent Jose Mourinho’s side into the quarter-finals, where they will meet rivals Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola dealt Mourinho his first loss as United boss earlier in the month and continued his 100 per cent start to life at City with a 2-1 win at Swansea, Gael Clichy and Aleix Garcia getting on the scoresheet.
Should Wayne Rooney be dropped? Let us know in the comments section below!
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