The calls to drop the Manchester United captain are growing louder from fans and pundits alike
For the first time in 12 years, Jose Mourinho has lost three games on the bounce with his Manchester Untied side, leading to plenty of speculation about how he can turn things around.
Defeat in the derby against Pep Guardiola's City side was followed by a 1-0 loss to Feyenoord, and finally they were beaten 3-1 by Watford on the weekend.
While there will be some time required for Mourinho to get his players doing exactly what he wants and a bedding in period given to the new signings, the even so fans are beginning to worry about the performances. Paul Scholes slated their performance at Vicarage Road, while Mourinho himself stated that the players were beginning to feel an increased sense of pressure.
"My only doubt was the way they can cope with the negative moments that come sooner or later," said Mourinho after their loss."I feel that some individuals probably feel too much pressure and that responsibility."
Given the way England performed at the Euros and the ongoing debate over how he has dropped back into midfield, the focus has largely fallen on Wayne Rooney, whose level of performance appears to be far below what would be expected of a captain for Manchester United.
From misplacing passes to losing possession at key times, there was very little in the performance that suggested that he deserved his place on the field. A video posted on Streamable highlighted all of Rooney's contributions to the game, and it certainly shows up that he is suffering through an incredibly poor run of form.
The statistics don't make for pleasant reading either. According to Squawka, in the last two games, Rooney has failed to hit a shot on target, and although his pass accuracy rate of 85% appears to be quite high, it is below what would be expected for other players in that creative role.
Mesut Ozil, who can also be found dropping deep to collect the ball from the defence to set up attacks, boasts a 92% accuracy rating over the last two games, a figure which doesn't change when extended to his season as a whole to date. Ozil has also created six chances to Rooney's four, but similarly hasn't troubled the opposition goalkeeper in two games.
Across the city of Manchester, Kevin de Bruyne has a similar pass accuracy rating to Rooney, but has been much more telling with his use of the ball than Rooney. He has created nine chances, scoring twice in two games.
Notably, neither Ozil or Rooney has an average pass length anything like Rooney's 23m, which highlights the different styles employed by the teams involved, but also contributes to the England captain's accuracy rating.
That aside, Mourinho now has a choice to make.
Whether he wants to look at the statistics or rely on his own eye, it's clear that Rooney's level of play is so poor that he is actively harming the team rather than helping them. Writing in The Telegraph, Jim White stated that "Surely, after this, Mourinho has to acknowledge that his faith in Rooney has run its course. Slow of thought and legs, United are a side currently functioning as if running through custard. And much of the blame lies with the continued selection, in the most critical position in the team, of a man who is playing on his reputation."
It is hard to argue against that case when you watch the highlights package above, but the focus should now switch to why Mourinho continues to pick him and thrust him into the spotlight in the midst of his clear decline. The Portuguese has built his reputation on making difficult and unpopular decisions, and being almost completely or uniquely lacking in sentimentality.
It seems glaringly obvious that he needs to do what has served him so well in the past again here, but is unwilling or unable to take the required action. Despite Rooney appearing to be out of position, out of sorts, and out of form, Mourinho's Machiavellian streak appears to have abandoned him as he faces the task of justifying his means to the Old Trafford crowd.