Ferguson spares Rooney but opens the door to more abuse
Wayne Rooney has been taking, and largely ignoring, abuse from Everton supporters for six years but Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson decided on Saturday that a garnish of tabloid tittle-tattle on top the traditional “Judas” fare was too much.
“He gets terrible abuse here and I’m not going to subject him to that,” Ferguson said when explaining his decision to leave the England striker out of the remarkable 3-3 draw.
His assistant Mike Phelan played the issue down after the match, saying it was “no real big decision”.
“Wayne was not ready to play so we didn’t play him,” he said.
United fans seemed unimpressed with the decision, with the majority on the forums and phone-ins saying Rooney should have played.
Rooney, who famously wore a T-shirt reading “once a blue, always a blue,” was hugely popular at Everton after two stellar years as a teenager.
Labelled a traitor on every return visit since he left to join United in 2004, the son of a boxer brought up on the mean streets of Croxteth would surely have shrugged off the loudest efforts of even the sharpest Scouse humorists.
In the past he has reacted, much to the fury of the Evertonians, by kissing the United badge, though the abuse has abated somewhat lately partly after he apologised for undermining Everton boss David Moyes in his autobiography.
Ferguson suggested that Rooney would be back for next week’s Champions League game against Rangers at Old Trafford, assuming no doubt that the home fans would drown out the best efforts of the visiting Glaswegians.
But the decision to withdraw him on Saturday will be noted with glee by loud-mouthed fans around the country, whose abuse generally falls on stony ground.
They will be queuing up to unload their vitriol on Rooney — unless he is wearing his country’s colours of course — in the hope that Ferguson might again choose to rest his top striker to protect his feelings.
Their next league game is against Liverpool — at least their fans won’t say anything nasty….