Vol. 5 Num 215 Fri. December 31, 2004  

Rooney charged

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was on Wednesday charged with violent conduct by the Football Association after he shoved Bolton's Tal Ben Haim in the face at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

The England star, who faces a three-match ban, has until 1800 GMT on Thursday to decide whether or not to appeal against the charge.

The case will be heard by a disciplinary commission on Friday.

Should Rooney be found guilty, he would be suspended for three matches, starting with the New Year's Day trip to Middlesbrough.

Meanwhile, Israeli defender Haim, whose exaggerated reaction to the push was branded 'a disgrace' by United boss Alex Ferguson, has been charged with improper conduct.

Ferguson viewed a television replay of the incident involving Rooney immediately after Sunday's 2-0 win and claimed 'there was nothing in it'.

His frustration increased 24 hours later as he believed his 27-million-pound forward was becoming the victim of a witch-hunt, claiming Haim should be the man in the dock.

"Because it is Wayne Rooney and because it is Manchester United, the emphasis is taken off the Bolton player completely," said the United boss.

"That is sad because it is obvious to everybody what he did. He laid down there for about two minutes rolling around, which is absolutely disgraceful as far as I am concerned and should be more of a concern for football in general than talking about Wayne Rooney."

A suspension for Rooney could deal a major blow to United's Premiership title push with the Old Trafford giants already nine points behind leaders Chelsea.

With Louis Saha sidelined until the middle of January at the earliest with a knee problem and Ruud van Nistelrooy out for even longer as he nurses an Achilles injury, the Red Devils chief can ill afford to be denied the services of another striker.