Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville says Wayne Rooney will have to adapt to a lesser role at OId Trafford if he wants to continue playing for the club in the future.

Rooney, 30, came in for a storm of criticism for his performance in United's Premier League defeat against Watford last weekend and was dropped by manager Jose Mourinho for the visit of Leicester City on 24 September.

The Red Devils coasted to a 4-1 win over the champions at Old Trafford in his absence, courtesy of goals from Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba.

Neville told Sky Sports that Rooney will soon have to make a big decision on his future at United.

"This is a transition into a new phase of his career, where he's potentially got to play a different way," the former England international said.

"No player at 22 is the same at 32, 33, 34. If you look at Paul Scholes, he went from a marauding midfield to a holding midfield player, Steven Gerrard the same, [Ryan] Giggs from a flying winger to a central midfield player.

"Rooney's going through that period now. I think potentially there will be a little bit of relief for him, in the sense of the scrutiny around him in the last week.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney came on as a late substitute in Manchester United's 4-1 win over Leicester City AFP/Getty Images

"It's how Wayne Rooney reacts to it. There will come a point where he will have to make that decision of either playing every week or coming to that point in his career where he may come out of the team one week, then go back in and adapt to that type of position."

Rooney has only scored one goal in eight appearances for United this season, but Mourinho insisted after the Leicester match that he was still "a big player" for the club.

"It is a big call to leave Rooney out. I know Jose and it's a normal thing, but it is a big call. He's a big personality, it brings headlines," Neville said.

"If United lose today it comes with criticism. The fact they've won 4-1 it's the perfect day for Jose Mourinho."