United ready to punish Rooney

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The Independent Football

The 19-year-old is to be disciplined by the Old Trafford hierarchy, possibly with a fine of a week's wages, for the red card he received for sarcastically applauding in the face of Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen during the goalless Champions' League draw in Spain.

The United manager Ferguson has consistently defended his £27m striker from any indiscretion in the past, notably the slap on Bolton's Tal Ben Haim that brought a retrospective three-match ban from the FA and in the wake of an indisciplined performance for England against Northern Ireland last week, when he also mocked the match official's decision to show him a yellow card.

The first dismissal of his United career, his second in total, has prompted a change in approach from Ferguson, however. Though critical of Nielsen's decision to book Rooney for a foul on Villarreal captain Quique Alvarez, the United manager publicly admitted that there was no defence for the disrespectful reaction that led to the second yellow card. He has subsequently made his private feelings clear to the teenager, whose prodigious rise has been blighted by controversy, and an internal disciplinary action is expected.

The chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, Gordon Taylor, last night called on United's team-mates and manager to help curb Rooney's combustible personality, a request all at Old Trafford are keen to accept. Taylor said: "There is a great talent there and you don't want to see it wasted for the sake of poor temperament. You hope that with the advice and help from his manager and team-mates, Wayne will realise that losing his temper like that is counter-productive."

The United defender Rio Ferdinand, a close friend of the England international, insisted support would be forthcoming from within the club. He said: "It's a cliché but it's true that Wayne wouldn't be the same player if you took the edge away. I would rather have the player we have now.

"It's not as though he is not making an effort. He is. He's a young lad. He's growing and hopefully incidents like this will guide him in the right way for the future. We all talk to him. If you are going to say something then you say it. It doesn't matter if you are a senior player or not. If someone got sent off in the team and Wayne wanted to say something then he could."

Another United player and reformed character, Alan Smith, added: "I think for a young man, who could potentially be one of the best players in the world, we've all got to put an arm round his shoulder and help him through difficult times."

Rooney will be suspended for United's next Champions' League tie, at home to Benfica on 27 September.