Wayne Rooney was once again woeful as Manchester United succumbed to an embarrassing penalty defeat at home to Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday evening.
Man United’s skipper started on the bench for the first time this season but was introduced at half time after James Wilson failed to make an impact up front.
With his side desperate for some inspiration against a dogged Middlesbrough side, it looked like the perfect time for Rooney to silence the critics who had derided him after his poor performance in the Manchester derby.
But as it was, Rooney only compounded United’s misery; the 30-year-old added no attacking stimulus and eventually missed his penalty in the shootout.
If supporters hadn’t lost patience with the captain already, they ought to be now. Aside for his hat-trick against Club Brugge in August, Rooney has been peripheral to anything positive United have produced all season.
The sad truth is that, despite being – for some unjustified reason – undroppable in the eyes of Louis van Gaal, Rooney’s career has entered a terminal decline. It is beyond recovery; the boisterous, effervescent menace that once upon a time tore teams like Middlesbrough to shreds is gone. With vital matches coming up, United fans will be asking the same question: Will Rooney ever be dropped?