Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has opted to drop Wayne Rooney from his starting lineup for the Boxing Day clash with Stoke City.
The Red Devils are without a win in six games in all competitions, and are looking to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat when they face Mark Hughes and his men at the Britannia Stadium.
Having conceded in midweek that the team hasn’t performed well enough and that he has been working hard to try and improve his own form, as noted by BBC Sport, Rooney has paid the price for his lack of influence on the team and will not feature from the start on Saturday.
United have slipped out of the top four as a result of their dip in form in recent weeks, and they now trail league leaders Leicester City by nine points.
In turn, that has resulted in Van Gaal coming under intense scrutiny with significant speculation circulating about his future. The Dutch tactician didn’t take kindly to the rumours and addressed the media in his press conference in midweek, but he will certainly know the importance of securing a positive result this weekend.
However, that push will be without Rooney who joins summer signing Morgan Schneiderlin on the bench, while Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial will be expected to provide an edge in the final third for the visitors.
Manchester United team to play Stoke City: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Blind, Young, Carrick, Herrera, Mata, Fellaini, Depay, Martial
Subs: Rooney, Romero, Schneiderlin, Varela, McNair, Borthwick-Jackson, Pereira