Rooney blames 'headline-grabbing' referees for his red cards

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The Independent Football

The Football Association will today receive an appeal from Manchester United over Wayne Rooney's dismissal in the Amsterdam Tournament - and they should prepare for more after the England striker insisted he was powerless to change a reputation that, in the eyes of Sir Alex Ferguson, has made him a marked man at the age of 20.

Rooney has been sent off three times in11 months, the latest 34 days after his World Cup expulsion in a friendly against Porto that may yield a three-match ban from the Premiership. Confirming that he views himself more as sinned against than sinner, and echoing the thoughts of Ferguson, the £27m forward yesterday blamed attention-seeking, Continental referees for his poor record.

"I don't think there is much I can do. I play football the way I see it, " said Rooney, who was joined at Old Trafford last night by the £2.5m goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak from West Bromwich. "I think referees are trying to grab the headlines too much instead of refereeing the game. In the Premier League the referees let it go a bit but the foreign refs slow it down and are quick with the cards. That is the way the game has gone and sometimes the players have to take the consequences."

Rooney was equally robust about United's Premiership credentials this season, which he believes must deliver a first title in four years to Old Trafford to stem the flow of power from Manchester to Stamford Bridge.

"Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world and to go three or four seasons without winning the League is not good enough," he said. "We have to win it this year. It will be very frustrating if we don't win the League, especially if Chelsea win it again."

Speaking at the launch of his autobiography, My Story So Far, Rooney dispelled suggestions of ill-feeling between himself and his United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo over the Portuguese winger's reaction to his stamp on Ricardo Carvalho in the World Cup quarter-final.

"If England don't do well in a major tournament people look for a scapegoat and unfortunately a lot of people have turned on Cristiano," he said. "I spoke to Cristiano the night of the game and there were no problems. I am not going to lie - I was disappointed with his involvement and the decision to send me off but that's in the past. I like Cristiano, we are friends off the pitch, and that night we were opponents. I spoke to him about the wink and I know it had nothing to do with me being sent off."

United succeeded last night at the third attempt in signing Kuszczak, the Polish international goalkeeper who Ferguson has identified as a potential successor to Edwin van der Sar. The 24-year-old will cost £2.5m, a deal that involves United's former England Under-18 goalkeeper, Luke Steele, and reserve team centre-half Paul McShane moving in the opposite direction. United were also last night linked with a move for the Bayern Munich and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves.

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