Wayne Rooney was given a rare opportunity to play up front for Manchester United as they faced Northampton in EFL Cup.
It was his first start in that position since May and after an awful display in midfield for Jose Mourinho’s side against Watford, he would need to make a big impression to keep himself in contention for the clash with Leicester.
Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been preferred ahead of him in the main striker role at the start of the season, with Rooney often deployed in attacking midfield.
So the United captain would hope to make a goalscoring impact when facing the League One side.
Rooney did have the ball in the back of the net in the first half as he headed home after Timothy Fosu-Mensah nodded the ball against the bar, but he was denied by the offside flag.
Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Rashford got the goals for United in a 3-1 win, but how did Rooney get on? Let’s take a quick look.
What did he do well?
He did link up well with those around him, dropping into pockets of space for his team-mates to find him.
Sadly for Rooney, neat link-up play isn’t enough against Northampton and Mourinho brought on both Ibrahimovic and Rashford after just 54 minutes to move Rooney into a different floating role.
What did he do badly?
The England skipper missed an absolute sitter inside the first 10 minutes. Ashley Young squared it to him and he somehow managed to put it wide.
He also spooned a cross straight out of play in a frustrating first period.
Northampton’s defence weren’t stretched often enough by Rooney and he dropped deep too often, which made life for the opposition a lot easier.
Does he have a future up front for Man United?
In short, no.
Rooney wasn’t awful but you would have expected better against a League One side.
His neat link-up play was undermined by his lack of pace to run in behind and his wasteful finishing.
He’s not the goalscoring force that Ibrahimovic is and he doesn’t offer the youthful speed that Rashford can offer so a future as a striker for United looks extremely unlikely.
Whether he has a future in United’s side in general, is another question…