Manchester United has played four games this season, and captain Wayne Rooney has started all of them. Against Tottenham and Aston Villa, Rooney didn’t record a single shot on target. In Tuesday’s Champions League match – as Memphis Depay showed off his dance moves in front of thousands of once skeptical, now adoring fans – Rooney patiently jogged in circles, waiting for something (a mis-hit cross, a wayward free kick, one of the six dozen long-distance shots Memphis pounded into the penalty area) to fall his way. Yesterday United drew 0-0 with Newcastle. Rooney had a goal disallowed.
The English papers have covered Rooney’s poor start with their usual brand of reactionary grandstanding and shameless myopia. In the Telegraph, Jim White argued that Rooney has lost his old aggression and enthusiasm: “For those who have watched him over the years, the fear is there is nothing temporary about his decline.”