Wayne Rooney is currently away on international duty as England’s captain.
It doesn’t matter though. Questions about his situation at Manchester United follow him everywhere.
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Rooney, 30, has lost his spot as a starter in Jose Mourinho’s side in the last two Premier League games. The all-time leading goalscorer for the English national team is also the captain of United but with the emergence of Marcus Rashford and the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rooney has found himself as the odd-man out at Old Trafford.
Speaking to the media at England’s St. George’s Park training HQ on Tuesday, Rooney was asked about his situation at United.
“It’s my job. I love football, I love being involved with the team. Obviously I’m not starting at the minute at Manchester United but I have to work hard to get back into the starting eleven, which I’m doing, and when I get my chances, take them,” Rooney said. “Again, I am fully supportive of the team, the players, the manager at Manchester United. Of course I want to be involved but the most important thing is that we win.”
Rooney’s role as the number one cheerleader among United’s squad is one he has taken on with a small on his face in recent weeks. However, you got the sense that these comments were a little message to Mourinho: “Hey, don’t forget about me.”
With his form dipping at the end of last season, then over the summer for England and again at the start of this campaign with his one goal in seven Premier League appearances so far, many fans and pundits called for Rooney to be dropped.
When Mourinho finally bit the bullet and benched his captain, United have looked better in attack.
The main benefactors here could be the English national team as Rooney could use these 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia to score a few goals to remind everyone of his quality. There’s no doubting Rooney is still a fine player but finding the right position for him to play in at United has proved troublesome thus far for Mourinho and the quality which surrounds has also led to his benching.
With Zlatan scoring goals and leading the line wonderfully, plus Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Rashford scoring goals and Jesse Lingard developing all the time, Rooney is definitely set for an extended spell on the sidelines unless there are injuries or a dip in form from others.
Rooney is being very professional about all of this but for a man who has been at the top of the game since he burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old, the next few weeks and months will be a huge test of his character.