Manchester United‘s all-time leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney has called for Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag to drop Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford for Monday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool.
The 20-time English champions will be bidding to avoid a third successive defeat at the start of the 2022-23 campaign when they welcome their bitter rivals to Old Trafford.
Ronaldo is again in line to feature at the tip of the attack despite the ongoing speculation surrounding his future, while Rashford is likely to retain his spot on the left.
However, Rooney has said that “energy” will be key against Jurgen Klopp‘s side, and the now DC United head coach has said that he would not play either Ronaldo or Rashford from the first whistle.
“I wouldn’t play Cristiano Ronaldo, and I wouldn’t play Marcus Rashford,” Rooney wrote in his column for The Times.
“If I was in Ten Hag’s position my main concern would be getting energy on the pitch, and United’s failure to recruit a number nine means they relied on Ronaldo against Brentford, even though he hadn’t trained a lot with the team.
“He looked like he needs time to get match fit. Ten Hag needs energy from his side and that may mean dropping Ronaldo.
“As for Marcus, I think he needs to do a lot of soul-searching and figure out what he wants, for his own good, before anything else. Because watching him is a real concern, he looks like he wants to be anywhere but on a football pitch.”
Rooney also criticised his former team’s performance in their 4-0 loss at Brentford, which saw the Red Devils drop to the bottom of the Premier League table.
“Football has developed tactically and improved technically during my time in the game, but the basics don’t change,” wrote the former England striker.
“If you don’t run, if you don’t put in the effort, you can lose to any team. I have never seen Manchester United so lacking in those basic qualities. Their hammering by Brentford was hard to watch.
“If that had happened to any of the United teams I played for, I think fans, journalists and every other team in the country would have been shocked, but people weren’t with this side. The most worrying thing is that neither the result nor performance surprised me.
“Erik ten Hag was right to call players out and speak about hunger, and it was fair enough for him to get them in for extra training, where he asked them to run the same distance that Brentford outran them by.
“Ten Hag will have done a lot of soul-searching this week and will be making a lot of demands to get a reaction out of his players, I’m sure.
“But with this group, this has been happening for so long that changing their ways is going to take something drastic. They’re emotionless — there is no character, no heart in the team.”
Casemiro could be in the stands for Monday’s clash with Liverpool, as the Brazil international is believed to have completed the first part of his medical with the Red Devils on Saturday.