The captain’s replacement for the visit of the Foxes was Juan Mata, who thrived in the position, managing one goal and one assist. Rooney shouldn’t expect to return to the starting line-up any time soon if the other players keep performing on a weekly basis.
Alongside Rooney and Mata, summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan is yet to get into his stride and prove why he should be used in the central attacking midfield role.
And, if Mourinho aims to utilise Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford as wide players, it could be possible that Jesse Lingard gets a shot at playing behind the striker too.
Let’s assess these options and see who deserves to be the club’s regular number 10:
The Manchester United academy graduate is currently living the dream of playing for the Red Devils, having been at the club since he was seven years old. Lingard is generally used as a winger, either on the left or right, but was also utilised in the number 10 role for a couple of games last season.
Mourinho rates the 23-year-old highly as he has everything the manager expects from his wingers, from tracking back to offering blistering pace on the counter attack. Although, Lingard may not be the ideal player to be relied upon as United’s number 10, as there remain questions surrounding his creativity and consistency.
It’s not been the perfect start to Mkhitaryan’s career at Old Trafford, as the Armenian has found it hard to break into the first team thus far. The only time he received a start was during the Manchester derby, in which he was taken off at half time.
Right now might not be the ideal time to consider the former Shakhtar Donetsk player as the side’s regular number 10, but it won’t be long before he is ready to stake his claim for the position. There are certainly no doubts about Mkhitaryan’s abilities, as he was widely regarded as the Bundesliga’s best playmaker last season, and was Borussia Dortmund's third highest goal-scorer in the league.
The Spaniard hasn’t had the chance to show how good he is in the central attacking midfield role as often as he’d have liked since joining United in 2014. To the befuddlement of many, he was predominently used as a right-winger under Louis van Gaal -- a position for which Mata is not blessed with the requisite pace or physicality.
After being used in his best role against Leicester, Mata showed Mourinho why he should retain his place in that position by playing a key role in United’s 4-1 victory over the reigning champions. It looks like the 28-year-old is set to get a good run of games in the number 10 position this season, and he’ll be expected to keep Rooney out of the starting line-up.
The captain has been recognised as a player who can no longer lead United’s attack, and has been used as the number 10 for quite some time now. Despite his rapid decline, Rooney was seen as an undroppable figure until recently.
Rooney would regularly be praised by TV analysts and ex-pros as long as he got himself on the scoresheet or produced an assist during a game. But it’s becoming abundantly clear to everyone that the side’s attack slows down once Rooney gets on the ball. United don’t need him to start anymore, even though he has achieved a lot as a Manchester United player.