Wayne Rooney has admitted fears over being potentially dropped by Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
The 30-year-old attracted widespread criticism after producing a toothless display against League One side Northampton Town in the League Cup.
Whilst former players like Phil Neville and Luis Nani have expressed their support for Rooney, the majority of fans and pundits have called for the captain’s omission from the starting XI.
Reflecting on a tumultuous past few weeks, Rooney acknowledged the need to improve on a personal level.
“That’s football, I think,” he said.
“We don’t win in three games and, of course, everyone is going to talk about it.
“We had a bad week, a bad eight days where we’ve lost three games, and it’s important now we react well to that and come through that.
“I have to focus, work hard, of course, and I’ve done that throughout my career. I’ve worked hard and tried to do my best for the team. I’ve done that [played in different positions] throughout my career.
“I feel I can play in all positions but I think the manager has made it clear either I’ll play up front or in the No 10 and that’s where he sees me playing.
“As I said before, it’s not just myself – the whole team is going in and working hard.
“We had a bad week but we’ve been working hard to put that right.”
Above anything, Jose Mourinho is a pragmatist, and is not one to hand a place in the starting XI to players on the pretext of their reputation. This is a man, remember, who dropped Andrey Shevchenko at Chelsea, Iker Casillas at Real Madrid and, most recently, Bastian Schweinsteiger.
And it will begin to dawn on Mourinho that Rooney, previously viewed as the centrepiece to his plans at Old Trafford, is stifling a very promising group of players. The game against Leicester City on Saturday, which will most likely see Rooney be rested, provides an important opportunity for Mourinho to witness the improvement that arrives with Rooney consigned to the bench.