He's all at sea and on 'sinking ship'
OF ALL the managerial dilemmas facing Manchester United's Jose Mourinho after three successive defeats, the future of his captain Wayne Rooney is by far the most pressing.
The England captain, deployed in a central midfield role this season, has been a peripheral figure in a team struggling to gel.
And his lacklustre performance in the 3-1 defeat at Watford on Sunday led to widespread calls for him to be dropped.
Rooney mustered one shot, did not play a single through ball and created only two chances for teammates with the nine corners and free kicks he took.
"Alex Ferguson knew it more than three years ago... Wayne Rooney is no longer worth a place in the Manchester United team," veteran United watcher Jim White wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
Mourinho has never been afraid to make tough decisions during his trophy-laden managerial career.
He faces a huge one on the 30-year-old Rooney, who is four goals short of overtaking Bobby Charlton as the club's all-time leading scorer.
Rooney has been a key part of United's attack since scoring a brilliant hat-trick against Fenerbahce on his debut for the Old Trafford club 12 years ago, after arriving from Everton.
But his lack of mobility makes United predictable and easy to defend against.
Mourinho must be tempted to play the sharper Ander Herrera or a natural holding midfielder such as Morgan Schneiderlin to allow Paul Pogba more freedom to get forward.
Though Rooney is unlikely to be in the squad to face third-tier Northampton Town in the League Cup tonight, his selection for the Premier League game against champions Leicester City on Saturday has become the manager's burning issue.