Ex-Manchester United defender questions Rooney's place in side

Paul McGrath believes if United succeed during Wayne Rooney's suspension, he may not play as much.

Former Manchester United defender Paul McGrath has said that manager Louis van Gaal may question the use of his captain Wayne Rooney in the future after he was sent off for kicking Stewart Downing during United's 2-1 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford.

Rooney, who has spent 10 years at Old Trafford, was appointed as captain by the United manager in the summer and is seen as the side's leader. 

But after Saturday's challenge, McGrath questions whether van Gaal will need his skipper after a period of three games without him. 

He told TalkSport: “They have got so much talent up front that Wayne is probably not going to be missed as much as people think he is.

“Van Gaal is going to have to change the whole front system around and it might work better. You never know.

“I would have Wayne Rooney in there every time but he has given himself a problem by getting out [of the team] so simply. He has given Van Gaal a problem because he can say, ‘do we really need Wayne sprinting round the pitch, kicking people and maybe being petulant?’ And we are going to find out whether he does.”

United have a wealth attacking talent at their disposal, and are likely to have a quality replacement stepping in for the next three games. But it was the first time in five years that he received a red card a Manchester United shirt in five years - so this question seems a little premature, especially given that he has started the season in pretty decent goalscoring form.

It's hard to see a radical change at the top end of the park, with Radamel Falcao and Robin Van Persie playing up front with Juan Mata in an advanced midfield position.

McGrath seemed pessimistic and even predicted that Manchester United will finish outside the top four this season. Whether they finish in the top four or not remains to be seen, but it would be a little surprising if Rooney was to suffer drastically in terms of game time because of this one moment of madness.

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