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13th Sep 2016

We’re not sure why no one pulled up Phil Neville on his ludicrous Wayne Rooney comment

How was he allowed to get away with this?

Conan Doherty

You can’t just say stuff like this and then move on.

You can’t voice opinions like these and not even attempt to explain them.

Jose Mourinho has reinvented Manchester United but there’s still one, big obvious problem.

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League

Or more pertinently…

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League

United do not need Wayne Rooney in their team anymore. They don’t need a passenger where the driver should be. They don’t need him pulling back, taking up space, spraying hanging passes out to the full back that take the guts of five seconds to drop from the skies.

They don’t need a leader who won’t lead; someone who won’t make chances for himself anymore. He won’t take anyone on, work space at the edge of the box, he won’t do anything.

Whether he actually can do anything any more is another debate, but Wayne Rooney’s career would make a lot more sense if he was actually five years older than what we all thought.

He’s happy to take a back seat now but David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho have been insistent on putting him front and centre for no real reason. He wears the armband, he captains one of the biggest clubs in the world – he does so for his country as well – and maybe that makes him harder to drop.

How do you carry on in a team as captain if you can’t even make the side? Unless you’re Gabby Agbonlahor.

The choice seems to be to drop him and remove the armband and risk losing him altogether, or just persist. But by persisting, United are only holding themselves back.

It is becoming abundantly clear that Rooney is the blockage denying United their best team. He’s stopping Pogba roaming with the freedom he needs. He’s keeping Ander Herrera out of the side altogether.

Plus, you know, he’s doing sweet FA anyway.

Without Rooney, United’s 11 should look like this. With Rooney, United’s 11 should look like this.


But you get people with attachments to the club and to England and they defend him to the hilt. There’s no real case for it – how could there be – but they say he should be playing anyway.

That’s alright until these people get prime time slots and not only get to spout nonsense like that, but they don’t get pulled up or questioned on any of that nonsense. The nonsense gets a free pass to millions of people.

Like the sort of access Phil Neville got on Monday Night Football during the coverage of Everton and Sunderland.

“For me, he has to play.”

How on earth does something like that get said – out loud – without someone, ANYONE, cutting in and asking why? How does it get said anyway?

Explain yourself. Why should he play? Why are you so definite about it? What the hell are we missing?

But nobody bothered to get Phil Neville to elaborate. As if what he was saying was so obvious and something we can all accept – okay, Rooney HAS to play, we don’t need to go over that any more.

Because, actually, it should’ve become the biggest talking point of the night. Where, instead, they focused on Paul Pogba and where they could get the best out of him and how he needs to be central to the team, no-one fleeted the notion that removing the Rooney blockage might help.

Pogba’s actually been playing well. He’s just limited. He’s just peripheral. Rooney hasn’t been playing well. And, whilst he might certainly be bloody limited, he’s still central in everything United do. And that’s not a good thing. It hasn’t been for a while.

And someone making a throwaway comment like ‘Rooney has to play’ can’t be allowed to slide. Not without an explanation anyway.

But, even then, it wouldn’t be acceptable.

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