Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has hit out at Wayne Rooney claiming he looks “awful” and needs to “step up to the plate”.
Keane watched on as United put in another abject display in a goalless draw with PSV on Wednesday – their fifth of the season and a result that leaves their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread. Only a win at Wolfsburg in their final group match will see them through to the knockout stages.
Rooney is one of United’s most experienced players and Keane said, “As captain there’s more responsibility and I think he’s got to do a lot more”. Rooney, Louis van Gaal’s first choice centre-forward, has only three goals in 15 Premier League and European appearances this season and Keane did not hold back in his criticism working as a pundit on ITV.
“Mentally he doesn’t look really sharp; physically he doesn’t look in great shape. He needs to have a look at himself. He doesn’t look sharp, he looks awful.”
Few could argue that Rooney has been a shadow of his former self this season, and United have arguably looked better without him. They have scored three goals in the last six matches in which Rooney has featured, while in the last two matches he has missed, United have scored five goals.
This begs the question, is it time to drop Wayne Rooney?
It would not be fair to call time on his career just yet; he is only 30 years old and could surely rediscover his goal-scoring touch. But for now, his laboured playing style is detrimental to his side’s chances.
United play a possession-based game under Louis van Gaal, with more of the ball than any other Premier League team (59.4 per cent on average). They have, however, had only 96 shots – the fifth fewest ahead only of Sunderland, West Brom, Newcastle and Aston Villa. The 76.6 passes per shot that they average make United the least incisive team in the top flight.