As Manchester United resume domestic action this coming weekend against Watford, Wayne Rooney - on the back of a substitution against The Baggies no less - has questions to answer as his Premier League goalscoring drought continues. So has The Red Devils captain reached a watershed moment under Louis van Gaal?
A substitution for a lone striker with any side 2-0 up and strolling at home, might not raise too many suspicions normally. However, given the United captain's frugal goalscoring exploits to begin the 2015/16 campaign, some parties may lead us to muse that van Gaal may be opting for an alternative method in the attacking department.
Is Van Gaal wary of dropping Rooney?
As United's relative struggle for goals continue, Rooney's place in the team has come under further scrutiny, so is van Gaal simply afraid to drop his captain?
There were rumours pre-Crystal Palace, that Rooney had been dropped, but which transpired to be just that. Rumours. With a lack of options up front, is Rooney indispensible - to his manager at least?
Has Rooney been made a scapegoat?
As Louis van Gaal's men ended their - and Rooney's - collective goal drought in the Champions League versus CSKA Moscow a few weeks back and then added two at Old Trafford versus West Brom, the Stretford End and all around breathed a huge sigh of relief as the club ended 404 minutes of football without scoring.
Nevertheless, after such a barren spell, United's fans have been growing increasingly desperate to find a remedy for their team's malaises. For many, that has led to criticism for their under-performing captain. After reaching double figures in every league campaign so far, Rooney has only two in 981 minutes this term, with 10 looking a distant target currently. With that said however, Anthony Martial - after scoring three in his first two league games - is now without a goal in six.
United's solidity has taken the 'bite' from the team
The Red Devils' defensive unit has looked the strongest it has been in some time, for which van Gaal's time and perseverance looks to be paying off. That alas, has largely blunted any semblance of attacking ethos, which has not sat well with the United hordes.
Cries of 'Attack attack! we are United attack!' have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. Rooney, in his lone striking role appears to have become the target for frustration, but as documented, goals as a whole are becoming hard to come by, not least with Memphis Depay failing to adapt thus far. Rooney is perhaps being dealt a tough hand.
Louis van Gaal's trepidation in dropping Wayne Rooney has not been aided by a lack of attacking options. Even if the striker operates in a number 10 role, only Martial exists as the only realistic candidate to play the forward role.
With everything said though and with Rooney failing to find his touch as an attacking midfielder also, his place in the starting eleven seems more under threat than ever.