Wayne Rooney played behind Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao against Leicester City on Sunday - but he didn't take to the role well.
What a bonkers afternoon we were treated to at the King Power Stadium on Sunday; yet as Angel Di Maria delicately lobbed Kasper Schmeichel from the edge of the box to put Manchester United 2-0 up against Leicester City, the notion of an eight goal thriller seemed unlikely.
Yet United's defensive frailties reared their ugly heads yet again as Leicester recovered from 3-1 down to win the game 5-3. Manager Louis van Gaal could only look on as his Red Devils fell apart, incapable of completing even the simplest of defensive tasks in yet another embarrassing defeat for the Dutchman.
United's attacking play was exciting, incisive and threatening in the first half as Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie linked up for the first goal before Di Maria's sumptuous chip. Yet whilst Van Gaal will no doubt be ruing another defensive horror show, he made a decision before a ball had been kicked which arguably cost United a win.
Despite impressing in last weekend's 4-0 win over QPR, Juan Mata was dropped by van Gaal in order to push Falcao up with van Persie and let Wayne Rooney sit behind them in the No. 10 role which Mata excelled in a week ago - and it was a decision that didn't pay dividends.
Rooney offered little to the United attack, and whilst he'll be credited with an assist for Di Maria's goal, that pass was one of just 15 successful forward passes made by Rooney in the entire 90 minutes on Sunday - a startling stat for a player being used in the chief playmaking role.
The player in the No. 10 should be looking to create at every opportunity. He should be getting on the ball between the lines, threading balls through to strikers and shifting the ball wide to stretch the play if needed. Yet United's furthest forward 'midfielder' was regularly Di Maria, who had the drive and vision to cause mayhem, particularly in the first half as Rooney continues to underwhelm.
Van Gaal said that Rooney was virtually undroppable last week, and the Dutchman has now backed himself into a corner. The 28-year-old has been disappointing so far this season and simply isn't the player that he was ten, even five years ago. By handing Rooney the captaincy, van Gaal is essentially giving Rooney the keys to the United attack on a weekly basis - and whilst the players around him excelled in the first half, Rooney floundered again despite being played in a more withdrawn role after struggling up front.
Mata should've been the player to start behind Falcao and Van Persie, but that now seems unlikely to happen at Rooney's expense under van Gaal - and if he continues to turn in ineffectual displays as he did against Leicester, this will become as much of a problem as United's defensive woes.