Former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson has come out in defence of Wayne Rooney, claiming the 30-year-old is an easy target for criticism at Old Trafford.
The captain received derision from all corners following a series of abject performances under Jose Mourinho, most notably against League One side Northampton Town.
In turn, Rooney was omitted from the starting XI ahead of Man United’s clash with Leicester City, leading to the side’s best performance of the season.
Speaking before United’s 4-1 win over the champions, Robson claimed Rooney is an easy target when it comes to pointing the finger at Mourinho’s side.
“When United are having a bad time it’s always Wayne that gets the criticism,” he said.
“He’s always the easy target.
“He sets very high standards and if he’s not scoring or creating goals and we’re losing straight away people look at him. The fans always seem to pick him out. I don’t think he’s been our worst player.”
It is no secret that Rooney has posed as the nation’s honorary scapegoat for the past decade, drawing almost perennial denigration from the hound-like English media following failures for both club and country.
And in some instances – the World Cup in 2006 springs to mind – this criticism goes too far, or is simply unwarranted.
But when you give someone the captain’s armband, place him in the No.10 role and give him unadulterated access to the starting XI, and only receive a return of four goals in 26 games, then singling out Rooney is justified.
His presence in the starting XI is detrimental to the side’s overall potency going forward; many have seen it for years, but it was only against Leicester, where Rooney-less side wreaked havoc against Claudio Ranieri’s side, did the whole world finally see how much the 30-year-old was holding Mourinho’s men back.