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
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
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

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015