Michael Owen was baffled by Wayne Rooney's decision to hand penalty-taking duties to his Manchester United teammates in their 4-1 win over Fenerbahce in the Europa League. The United skipper allowed Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial to take penalties ahead of him in the one-sided game at Old Trafford, even though Rooney is the designated taker.
Rooney, 30, could have moved to within one goal of Sir Bobby Charlton's club-record haul of 249 if he had taken and scored both penalties. And Owen, his former United and England teammate, has admitted to being flabbergasted by Rooney's decision.
"It grates with me. He still should have taken the penalty. He's the centre-forward," the former United striker said, according to The Mirror. "Twelve years ago playing against Fenerbahce in his first game for United Wayne ripped the ball off Ryan Giggs."
Rooney – who scored a hat-trick on his United debut against Fenerbahce in 2004 – has been in and out of the United side this term. And in the context of Rooney's recent run of poor form, Owen found Rooney's decision to be especially bemusing.
"Wayne is struggling for confidence. He's the goalscorer," Owen said of the United captain. "If he'd scored two penalties tonight he'd be be ahead of Ruud van Nistelrooy in the European goal-scoring charts and one behind Sir Bobby Charlton in the the all-time United goalscorers' list.
"He has to want to score. When he was younger he was nasty. He wanted to score. He was desperate. He gets a penalty. He should be all over it."
Pogba, meanwhile, revealed he asked Rooney whether he could take the first of United's two penalties against Fenerbahce. The Frenchman also thanked the England international for his selflessness.
"It was Wazza or myself to take it. But I told him I wanted to take it and he let me take it," he said, as quoted by The Mirror. "I'm very happy to take the penalty and score it and for a player like him, the captain of the side, to let me take the penalty, is big respect to him. I'm very glad for that."