Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce believes under-fire Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney remains one of the best players “the world can offer”.
Rooney has endured a difficult start to the season, finding himself dropped from the starting XI of both United and England after attracting significant criticism.
The 31-year-old started United’s 4-1 hammering of Fenerbahce in the Europa League on Thursday, but that was his first start at club level since an EFL Cup tie at Northampton Town on September 21.
Despite the apparent fall from grace, Bruce is adamant that Rooney is being harshly judged and that his effectiveness in a variety of positions has ultimately worked against him.
“Wayne Rooney has been the best English player for the past decade,” the former United defender told TalkSport.
“You just have to look at his goalscoring record to know that he is up there with the very, very best the world can offer.
“I think Wayne has been a bit unfortunate. They have chopped and changed him around too often.
“Play him in his position as a centre-forward and he’s guaranteed to get you goals. He has always produced if you play him in the top end of the pitch, but because people have used him in different areas I think he has suffered from that a little bit.
“Make no mistake, he has been one of the great players and still is if you ask me. He’s still got a lot to offer.”
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