Rooney has failed to deliver the goods for Manchester United this season, scoring only once in ten Premier League appearances, and his place is under threat from Martial
Tony Cascarino and Neil McCann are the latest football pundits to voice the increasingly popular opinion that Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal should either drop Wayne Rooney or shift him out of his favoured central attacking position, in favour of the club's £36m summer signing, Anthony Martial.
It would appear change is urgently required in the Manchester United frontline, after the club went for a third consecutive game without scoring this weekend. They played out yet another scoreless draw, this time against Crystal Palace, and after the tie Alan Pardew openly discussed how he had set up his side to shut out the Red Devils.
“Our big target was to stop Martial, and we didn't give him an inch today,” revealed Pardew after the match, as reported by The Telegraph. “He was the one we wanted to stop, because we felt if we could stop him we could cut out their creative angle.”
When pressed further on whether Martial, rather than Rooney, is now Manchester United's key attacking outlet, Pardew responded obliquely. “I have to say he is an impressive young player,” he said. “And we looked to stop him today, makes no bones about that.”
The season's statistics certainly lend credence to Pardew's reasoning. Despite playing in three less Premier League games than his club captain, Martial has more goals (3 compared to Rooney's 2), assists (1 to 0) and a greater conversion rate (38% to 13%).
And now, former Republic of Ireland international and analyst Tony Cascarino has told SkySports that the time has come for Van Gaal to promote Martial, at Rooney's expense.
“Why is Martial not playing down the middle?” Cascarino asked.
"I know Rooney can function in this team but they're playing two holding midfielders, which nullifies a lot of what they're doing. He must be suffering; he's having a dreadful time in front of goal.
"There is a Man Utd way and it's not what we're seeing at the moment. You see Rooney go clear and you'd rather have Jamie Vardy there at the moment."
Cascarino's fellow SkySports pundit, the former Scottish defender Neil McCann, echoed these sentiments.
"I know Louis van Gaal likes this system but I don't think Wayne Rooney can continue to play through the middle,” he added.
"The guy has been world class but I just don't think he's got the pace he had when he was a young boy in terms of going in behind and turning defenders.
"Martial should be playing there, Rooney should be off him. I don't think Martial looks as if he's enjoying himself on the left-hand side and it's not as if they're scoring the goals.”