Former Blackburn Rovers striker Chris Sutton claims Pep Guardiola would have no problems with immediately dropping Wayne Rooney from the starting XI.
The captain’s turgid display during Man United’s 3-1 defeat to Watford was greeted with a barrage of derision from both supporters and pundits, with many calling for the 30-year-old’s omission from the squad.
Writing for the Mail Online, Sutton criticised Mourinho for not being ruthless enough with Rooney, claiming Pep Guardiola – who quickly dropped Joe Hart and Yaya Toure upon his arrival to Manchester City – would have dismissed the striker instantly.
“Rooney is a problem for both Jose Mourinho and England manager Sam Allardyce. Putting it simply, there are better players in his position for both club and country now. Mourinho has got to be brave enough to leave Rooney out.
“United have lacked pace, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not the sort of striker who will move in behind the defence and Rooney is no longer a No 10 who does that.
“Rooney is holding both teams back. It is as simple as that. The problems really all come down to Rooney. He is the major issue here. If you leave him out it gives you far more options. Rooney has had his day.”
History dictates Mourinho is not shy when to comes to dropping ‘big’ players: Andrey Shevchenko at Chelsea, Iker Casillas at Real Madrid and, of course, Bastian Schweinsteiger at United are all fitting examples.
Why then, with this in mind, does Mourinho fail to recognise the manifest sluggishness and immobility that Rooney’s presence invokes?
The 53-year-old is, above all, a staunch pragmatist and a winner: it will come clear – hopefully sooner rather than later – to Mourinho that Rooney’s woefully faded attacking potency is impairing the side’s speed and dynamism going forward, leading to the captain’s long-awaited exclusion, and in turn injecting life back into United’s front line.