Did Wayne Rooney elbow McCarthy accidentally?
Blow to the face is yet another blow for United fans fed up with Shrek
Unfaithful, unpopular - but certainly not underpaid - Wayne Rooney has infuriated his own fans - and Wigan's - with a tackle which many thought should have been a sending-off matter.
As United were beating Wigan four-nil yesterday, Rooney elbowed striker James McCarthy in the face.
Referee Mark Clattenburg gave him the benefit of the doubt, awarding a free kick – meaning the United player is unlikely to face further sanctions over the incident, which manager Alex Ferguson claimed was an "accident" – but no red card.
To many Wigan fans, the incident looked callous, clearly intended and typically unpleasant. And some United fans weren't pleased either – to them, it was just the latest in a long line of grievances against Rooney.
Rooney has scored just six times this season in 18 league appearances, a modest tally set alongside those of his team-mates. Dimitar Berbatov's total for the season so far is a staggering 18, including three hat-tricks.
Javier Hernandez and Luis Nani have nine goals apiece – and even the venerable Ryan Giggs, more than a decade Rooney's senior, has put a couple away.
United pay Rooney a reputed £250,000 a week to put it in the back of the net, as he did 26 times last season in the Premier League. So some fans are beginning to ask whether the Shrek-a-like is really worth it any more.
Part of the reason for Rooney's lacklustre performance may be the off-pitch distraction of the near-collapse of his marriage last year after it emerged he had slept with prostitutes (again). Rooney clung on to the put-upon Coleen – but only just.
In November, he was forced to apologise to United fans for a drawn-out transfer debacle in which he accused his club of a lack of ambition before finally making a U-turn and signing a five-year deal.
But Rooney still has one supporter: Ferguson. Sir Alex said yesterday the incident was "nothing", adding: "Because it's Rooney, people will raise a campaign to get him hung by Tuesday or electrocuted or something like that.
"It's unbelievable. People will try and get him up before the FA because that's what they always do in these situations when it's Wayne Rooney.
"The incident was nothing. Referee Mark Clattenburg saw it and said it was an accident, there's nothing to it." ·
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