The captain, much to the frustration of supporters, has been an immutable presence in the side over the past few years with David Moyes and Louis van Gaal refusing to take off the 30-year-old, even in the face of manifestly abject performances.
Mourinho was subject to similar criticism during Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Hull City on Saturday. The 53-year-old’s decision to bring off Anthony Martial for Henrikh Mkhitaryan – whilst leaving Rooney on the pitch – was greeted with disapproval.
However, speaking after the game, Mourinho made it clear that he will not cower from taking off the captain throughout this campaign.
“I can take him out,” he said.
“It’s no problem for me to take him out, no problem for him to be out.
“But I was just reading the game and feeling that playing with the two strikers, Marcus and Zlatan, I needed Mkhitaryan and Rooney just inside because the full-backs were the ones playing really wide on the touchline.”
For some unknown reason, Rooney – irrespective of his blatant attacking inertia – has always avoided the chop during the post-Fergie era, whilst far more talented individuals have to watch on from the bench, dismayed and most likely confused.
This side is simply too rich in attacking options, too promising, too good
to be held back by the curmudgeon that perennially features at the axis of its front-line. With the likes of Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Memphis Depay all ready to inflict damage, Mourinho must be ruthless in how he treats the captain.