Having watched Manchester United beat Leicester City 4-1 without Wayne Rooney the conclusion has to be that they are now a better team without him.
Yes, they lost against Feyenoord without him, so the opposite argument can be put forward but, for that game, he would have made little, if any, difference as too many other players had a bad game.
Selecting Rooney makes it difficult for some players to play as well as they would normally be expected.
Pogba, for example, against Leicester was given a much freer role and was popping up all over the pitch. This resulted in a goal and a man of the match performance.
Juan Mata also scored and was in the top three contenders for man of the match. Had Rooney played, Mata would have been more inconspicuous because he would have been pushed out wide.
Marcus Rashford was another one who covered more ground in the absence of the captain. He appeared on the left, on the right and in the middle and was another who scored and was close to man of the match.
This proves, basically, that all Rooney has been doing in the past couple of years is getting in the way.
The only one, in my opinion, who was just as anonymous as usual was Jesse Lingard who didn’t benefit from the selection in the same way as he is rarely a benefit to the team. This, however, is because he is not good enough and nothing to do with Rooney.
So, in the absence of their skipper, United are a better team, something I have been saying and recording for the last two years or more. Now all we need is for Mourinho to become the first manager since Sir Alex Ferguson to realise this fact and Rooney can be sold and we can all move on.
The only improvements that could possibly be made to the eleven who started the game yesterday would be to bring Shaw and Mkhitaryan back into the team. Neither were 100% fit, according to Mourinho, which should mean that they will be back soon.
Of the side picked against Leicester Mkhitaryan would come in for Lingard and Shaw would replace Smalling allowing Blind to move back into the centre of defence alongside Bailly.
This is not necessarily Blind’s best position as he is a defensive midfielder at best, but he is certainly a better all round footballer than Smalling and offers United a lot more both in defence and attack.
All of this is just nit-picking really and the press advising Mourinho on which players to pick has been going on, seemingly, forever, just as with every other top manager.
As long as he continues to pick a team that wins and that, by the end of the season, finishes in the top three the fans will be happy. Winning the title would just be the icing on the cake.
On a slightly different subject and very briefly, what a con that United and City have been drawn together in the Mickey Mouse Cup! Did you know that the teams have never met in a major final? They never will either if they aren’t kept apart in the way that Liverpool and Everton or Celtic and Rangers are. What is it that the FA and Football League have against Manchester in cup competitions?
I suppose it will save one set of supporters that awful trek all the way to rip-off London for a game between two northern clubs!