Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker has pilloried Wayne Rooney, labelling the captain as “overweight and slow.”
Rooney encountered the nadir of his time at Man United last season, attracting widespread disparagement from fans and pundits alike after a string of sub-standard performances at No.10.
Mourinho, upon his arrival to Old Trafford, emphatically outlined his support for Rooney, declaring that the 31-year-old would be central to his plans for the 2016/17 season.
Speaking to 888sport, Parker was not so warm towards United’s captain.
“It’s no longer about him breaking records but finishing his career at Manchester United,” he said.
“He needs to show his worth and that he deserves to be in the team and not just because of marketing.
“As much as people appreciate what he’s done over the years and how many goals he’s scored football is about now and being judged on now.
“If someone had only heard of Wayne Rooney but seen him now they’d think ‘Who is this fella? He’s overweight and slow. That shot was terrible, and it looks like he can’t move or shift his body quick enough.’
“With Paul Pogba you do wonder when you look at his style of play for Juventus can he play that way for Manchester United? If he plays behind Ibrahimovic that puts Wayne Rooney in doubt and Rooney has to play – not that he deserves a place, but they have to play him. So it’s a difficult situation.”
It isn’t often that former players come out with such scathing criticism of their side’s captain, but Parker’s words are reflective of the general consensus amongst United fans, and not of lukewarm punditry.
Rooney’s immutable status in the first team continues to be staggering. No player should earn his place in the first team on the basis of a glittering past, nor should breaking United’s goalscoring record be something that perpetuates his continued selection.
For someone who grew up adoring Rooney, that rambunctious, tenacious goalscoring animal of yesteryear, seeing him struggle is painful. United and England’s captain is simply too slow, too immobile and too benign as a forward to function in this Mourinho side.
If every player was picked on merit, rather than reputation, you could construct United’s best XI alongside a second XI, and Rooney wouldn’t feature in either.