Wayne Rooney gave a tentative performance from the bench during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City in the Premier League.
The 30-year-old, left out of Jose Mourinho’s starting XI for the third game in a row, cut a reserved, benign figure after replacing Juan Mata on 67 minutes.
Rooney’s numbers from the game reveal a ‘safety first’ approach: 100% pass accuracy, 0 chances created, 0 completed crosses.
What these stats illustrate, above anything, is a complete lack of confidence. And following the unprecedented levels of chastisement directed at Rooney in recent weeks, one can understand why. This is a man coming to terms with his altered status at Old Trafford: once a fundamental component to the starting XI, the Englishman is now a peripheral figure, consigned to the role of a squad player.
For someone who has only known the centre stage since the age of 16, it is a bitter pill to swallow, and his recently restricted role in this Man United side was reflected by a heavily restricted performance. And at a time where the home side, inexplicably pegged back by Stoke, needed to take risks and push for a winner, the 30-year-old – as is now the norm – brought nothing but stagnation and uncertainty.