Rooney conundrum is Mourinho's biggest headache
By Ed Osmond
LONDON (Reuters) - Of all the managerial dilemmas facing Manchester United's Jose Mourinho after three success 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 lackluster 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 team mates with the nine corners and free kicks he took.
His defensive contribution was also negligible, failing to make a single tackle and registering one block and one interception in a tetchy 90 minutes during which his main priority appeared to be engaging in a constant dialogue with referee Michael Oliver.
"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.
"Slow of thought and legs, United are a side currently functioning as if running through custard and much of the blame lies with the continued selection, in the most critical position in the team, of a man who is playing on his reputation."
Mourinho has never been afraid to make tough decisions during his trophy-laden managerial career and 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. Continued...