Rooney and Scholes to miss season openers?

August 5, 2006

Manchester United's hopes of making a flying start to the season look like being left to the mercy of the Football Association.

Although there was a strong feeling within Soho Square they would be spared the task of handling the double dismissal of Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes in Amsterdam last night, it now transpires referee Ruud Bossen has reported both red cards to the Dutch FA, ignoring the precedent of past tournaments.

As a consequence, the FA expect to be formally notified of the decisions on Monday, triggering an automatic charges of violent conduct against both men, which, if proved, would lead to three-match suspensions.

However, there is still a strong possibility Rooney in particular could escape a ban as United are almost certain to lodge an appeal for wrongful dismissal in both cases.

And, while the FA must be seen to be going through the correct disciplinary process, such an appeal is likely to get a sympathetic hearing as there is a strong body of opinion that players dismissed in pre-season games should not face such a hefty punishment.

If any appeal on Rooney's behalf was successful, he would be free to face Fulham on August 20. Scholes' case is not quite so straightforward though as, even if the former England man is only deemed to have committed a yellow card offence when he went through the back of Quaresma, having already received one caution, the result could still be a one-match ban.

Such a scenario would be a blow to Ferguson as he has already indicated Scholes would partner £16.8million new-boy Michael Carrick against Fulham.

But it is the latest controversy over Rooney which provides the United boss with his greatest headache for he now has a problem on his hands, if not necessarily curbing the youngster, so crucial to United's chances of making any impact on Chelsea this term, then in attempting to shield him from wily defenders eager to exploit his fragile temper and referees looking for a `trophy' dismissal.

The United boss felt elements of both contributed to last night's red card, the fourth of Rooney's career, which came just 34 days after he was given his marching orders during England's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Portugal.

'Players are diving and acting so much now we are almost accepting it, which we should not do,' said Ferguson.

'The defender made a meal of it, which makes it hard for the referee but he should have done better as well.

'You hope commonsense would prevail but that was a ridiculous decision.'

Ferguson's theory was backed up by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who implored Bossen to spare Rooney the embarrassment of another lone walk down the tunnel.

'I tried to tell the referee it was only a friendly and Wayne had not really done anything wrong but he wasn't having it,' said the veteran Norwegian forward.

'There was no intent to hurt or damage the other player and really, the referee just spoiled the game.'

The FA have pledged to deal with the disciplinary cases long before the season begins, although, for now Ferguson has more pressing concerns about the make-up of his defence.