Following another uninspiring performance for Manchester United during Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory over Northampton Town in the EFL Cup third round, Wayne Rooney faces the axe for Saturday’s Premier League clash against champions Leicester City.
The 30-year-old has come in for heavy criticism of late - although, strangely, not from a host of former professionals working in the media - following a string of underwhelming displays.
Jose Mourinho said before the Northampton match that he wanted goals from his captain, who responded by missing a sitter inside the opening 10 minutes of the match at Sixfields.
Rooney isn’t the dynamic player he once was - that much is abundantly clear now - but it seems that, as well as the majority of pundits, the versatile forward has also had five different managers under his spell.
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal didn’t dream of dropping the former Everton starlet, and neither did former England boss Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson’s successor Sam Allardyce effectively conceded that Rooney calls the shots after his first match in charge of the Three Lions, against Slovakia last month, while even Jose Mourinho hasn’t found the guts to drop the forward during these opening weeks of the 2016-17 campaign.
The last time Rooney was dropped: March 2013
That could all change this weekend - but when was the last time Rooney was actually dropped for a big match?
You need to go back to March 2013 and the Champions League last-16 match between United and Mourinho’s Real Madrid at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who took no nonsense from Rooney, caused a huge shock by naming the striker on the bench for the Red Devils’ biggest match of the season.
Here’s how United lined up that night…
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
Right-back: Rafael (Antonio Valencia - '87)
Centre-back: Rio Ferdinand
Centre-back: Nemanja Vidic
Left-back: Patrice Evra
Midfield: Michael Carrick
Midfield: Tom Cleverley (Rooney - '73)
Left-wing: Ryan Giggs
Second striker: Danny Welbeck (Ashley Young - '80)
Centre-forward: Robin van Persie
United, who fancied their chances of progressing to the quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu three weeks earlier, took the lead thanks to a Sergio Ramos own goal int he 48th minute.
But the turning point for Ferguson’s side came in the 56th minute when referee Cuneyt Cakir showed Nani a harsh red card.
Real Madrid, soon after, scored two goals - courtesy of Luka Modric and former red Cristiano Ronaldo - in three minutes.
It was the end of the road for United in Europe that season and Ferguson, aware that this would be his final campaign in football management, was absolutely apoplectic with rage after the full-time whistle.
He even refused to do a post-match interview he was that angry.
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