Wayne Rooney looks unsure of the role he is supposed to be playing for Manchester United, according to the Sunday Mirror’s Andy Dunn.
Rooney has scored only two goals in the Premier League this season and was substituted after 68 minutes of United’s 1-1 draw at Leicester City on Saturday evening, though Louis van Gaal said that was down to an injury.
“It’s taken him 15 months to get the goals Jamie Vardy has scored in this record breaking run,” Dunn told the Sunday Supplement on Sky Sports.
“He’ll know that’s not good enough but he does look off the pace physically and mentally. He looks a bit jaded.
“However, when I look at him in this United side I also think Rooney looks unsure of his role in the team during game time. You don’t know whether he’s the 10. You don’t know whether actually Van Gaal’s given him a license to get further forward or whether it’s to drop back when things change around.
“Yesterday he was sort of an itinerant figure all over the pitch which then seemed to affect his execution and his finishing.
“He snatched at a couple of volleys and he gave away possession high up the pitch which is unlike him. Even after 18 months or so, I think he’s still struggling to come to terms with what Van Gaal specifically wants out of him.”
The Sun’s Shaun Custis, meanwhile, believes Rooney’s form could eventually force England boss Roy Hodgson into a difficult decision regarding his captain ahead of the Euro 2016 finals.
“You cannot see how Rooney is going to justify his place for England next summer,” Custis said.
“I’m a big Rooney fan. He’s scored lots of goals for England but at the moment he just doesn’t justify a place. I wish he would because I think he’s a great player.
“Eventually there will come a time when he will have to [drop him]. You champion Vardy, Kane and Barkley but you can’t play them all. It’s going to be hard for Rooney to justify a place in that team.
“He may still go as captain and he may be right for the squad but you can’t justify him in the starting line up at the moment. It’s very hard.
“If you didn’t know Rooney at all and you were watching the Premier League there is no way on earth you would be picking him for a national side,” he added.
“You are probably looking at Manchester United and wondering why that lad plays, and yet he’s got so much going for him.
“He’s been such a good player but you watch him against PSV the other night dropping back deep to get the ball and not actually having the energy to get back up and get on the end of it. That’s just not him.”