Rooney sidelined for ignoring curfew before shock defeat

Manchester United 2 Blackburn Rovers 3

Old Trafford

Sir Alex Ferguson deemed Wayne Rooney unable to train when he arrived for training last Tuesday morning after a Boxing Day night out, which Manchester United yesterday confirmed resulted in him being disciplined.

Rooney, who has been fined one week's wages of £160,000 by the manager, is understood to have been in on time for training at Carrington the day after the 5-0 win over Wigan Athletic. But, in a development which left the striker extremely aggrieved, Ferguson did not consider him in a state to train, as United began preparing for Saturday's game at home to Blackburn Rovers – for which the striker was dropped.

Rooney does not believe he allowed his evening with team-mates Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson, plus partners, to get out of hand – some or all of that group moved on from Southport's Warehouse restaurant, in which Liverpool's Steven Gerrard has a part ownership, to another venue in the town.

Ferguson suggested after omitting Rooney from United's 3-2 defeat to Blackburn that the striker had not "trained well" last week and had been suffering "little strains here and there", but it is now clear he and the players who had joined him were all heavily fined. Rooney's sense of injustice is compounded by his belief that he, Evans and Gibson incurred the manager's wrath only because their discussion about how much they had enjoyed the evening happened to be overheard on Tuesday morning. Word reached Ferguson, who was 70 on Saturday, and the manager called Rooney into his office to voice his displeasure. There is no dispute that some alcohol was consumed, nearly five days before the Blackburn fixture. The three players were ordered to attend extra training on Wednesday – their day off – and Rooney was told on Friday night he would be dropped for the Rovers fixture.

Ferguson's firm line, over an evening which Rooney would probably want no public allusion to if he had not conducted himself acceptably, is bound to raise new questions about the relationship of the two men, 15 months after Rooney publicly challenged the club, before securing a new five-year contract. United insist the disciplinary action is not out of the ordinary and occurs on a regular basis at United, as at all clubs, and player and manager have now put the issue behind them.

Saturday's 3-2 defeat only emphasised Rooney's importance to United's ambitions after Ferguson, in an interview with the club's television channel, stressed his desire to win a third European Cup before retiring. His statement that he believed he has another three years in the job appears to have set a deadline.

United had fashioned wins over Wolves, Queen's Park Rangers, Fulham and Wigan that were so emphatic and timely that the sick-or-injured list – currently numbering 14 – seemed not to threaten their recovery from Champions League elimination as much as anticipated. Yet, faced with a heavy pitch, to which Blackburn adapted more readily on Saturday, Ferguson's patchwork line-up, with unfamiliar combinations in the centre of defence and midfield, was exposed.

Their response to going two goals behind was familiarly combative – Dimitar Berbatov, in particular, worked impressively hard as well as scoring twice to atone for giving away a 16th-minute penalty – but, particularly at 2-2, needed the extra inventiveness Rooney might have provided.

The credit due to Blackburn should not be understated. Steve Kean's back four contained two 20-year-olds and, in left-back Adam Henley, a boy of 17 whose two Premier League starts so far have been at Anfield and Old Trafford. He and Grant Hanley, who exposed David de Gea's weakness at crosses by heading an 80th-minute winner, were heroic. Their performance was that of a team, unlike so many of Blackburn's rebellious fans, standing squarely behind the beleaguered Kean, as Aiyegbeni Yakubu confirmed after supplementing his first-half penalty by going past both Michael Carrick and Phil Jones to score his second after 51 minutes.

"The players are playing for the manager and playing for the club," Yakubu said. "He believes in us and we as a team always believe. All the players celebrate with the manager when we score."

Scorers: Manchester United Berbatov 52, 62. Blackburn Rovers Yakubu pen 16, 51, Hanley 80.

Substitutes: Man U Anderson 6 (Hernandez, h-t), Keane (Rafael, 85). Bl'bn Morris 6 (Rochina, 55), Goodwillie (Formica, 85), Slew (Yakubu, 89). Booked: Man U Nani, Carrick. Bl'bn Lowe, Petrovic. Man of match Hanley. Match rating 7/10. Possession: Man United 58% Blackburn 42%.

Attempts on target: Man United 13 Blackburn 5.

Referee M Dean (Wirral). Attendance 75,146.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes