Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is under pressure to drop Wayne Rooney, with the captain’s clanking performances emblematic of the team’s struggles.
United have lost their last three matches and there is clamour among supporters and journalists for Rooney to be removed from the starting XI.
In an online poll by the United fanzine Red Issue, over 99 percent of respondents called for him to be axed.
“Where do you want Wayne Rooney to play? Or should he be playing at all?” former England captain Alan Shearer wrote in The Sun after United’s 3-1 defeat at Watford on Sunday.
“Not on yesterday’s performance, it is fair to say.”
Despite United winning their first three league games, Rooney’s lacklustre displays meant his place was already under scrutiny.
With United having since lost to Manchester City, Feyenoord, in the Europa League, and Watford, the calls for him to be dropped are getting louder.
Rooney, 30, was rested for last Thursday’s trip to Feyenoord, but he has started all of United’s other games under Mourinho.
It was a similar story during Louis van Gaal’s two-year tenure as manager. The Dutchman sidelined Rooney only once, for a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City on Boxing Day last year.
David Moyes, van Gaal’s predecessor, was similarly faithful to the United number 10, whose career he launched at Everton.
But Alex Ferguson lost patience with the England captain towards the end of his storied tenure.
Ferguson claimed Rooney had asked to leave the club for a second time in 2013 and he disappeared from view in the dying days of the Scot’s 26-year reign.
Mourinho, whose side host Leicester City on Saturday, has said he would have no qualms about dropping Rooney.
“I can take him out. No problem for me to take him out,” Mourinho said following United’s last-gasp 1-0 win at Hull City last month.