Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal refused to discuss Wayne Rooney’s suitability to captain the team after the England forward was sent off against West Ham United.
Just a day short of the 10th anniversary of his United debut, Rooney was shown the sixth red card of his career for hacking down Stewart Downing in the 59th minute of his side’s 2-1 win on Saturday.
The offence occurred inside West Ham’s half, but Van Gaal was reluctant to talk about either Rooney’s reasons for committing a foul so far from goal or the wisdom of his appointment as captain.
“For me, that is neither a good analysis by you and neither a good question,” the Dutchman snapped at a journalist during his post-game press conference. “It is my right not to (answer).”
Rooney had opened the scoring with the 176th league goal of his career, moving him above Thierry Henry into third place in the all-time Premier League scoring chart.
Alan Shearer leads the record books with 260 goals while Andy Cole is second on 187.
Robin van Persie doubled United’s lead, but Diafra Sakho pulled a goal back before half-time and West Ham were also aggrieved that a late equaliser from Kevin Nolan was ruled out for offside.
Rooney’s actions dominated the post-match analysis, but he appeared to have found a sympathetic ear with Van Gaal after the game.
“Wayne is always coming to me,” said the United manager. “Maybe you don’t want to hear it, but maybe you do know that in professional football you make professional fouls and I have seen it today five or six times.
“Wayne has done it also so, professionally, as a trainer-coach, I can see that but he did it too confrontationally. That’s maybe his biggest mistake.
“But I’ve also seen these professional fouls without a yellow or red card, so that’s a little bit strange.”
While Van Gaal felt that Rooney’s challenge was merely a professional foul, he was at a loss to explain why the 28-year-old had swung his right foot at Downing with such force.
“He only wanted to trip him, but he has to explain that,” said Van Gaal.
“He said to me he wanted to do that. You are right, I saw that also, but you can’t change it now. It’s a great miss because he played very well. I was very pleased with him. He scored a good goal.”
Opposite number Sam Allardyce said of Rooney’s offence: “It looks cynical. Whether it’s a red card or not according to the rules, he just stopped him.
“He was getting away from him, he didn’t want him to do it, so he just hacked him down. It was really poor.
“If that was a straight red card by the letter of the law, only Mike Riley (head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board) can tell you that, not me.”
Allardyce was more forthright in his analysis of assistant referee Andrew Garratt’s decision to rule out Nolan’s late effort.
“The superman linesman’s got x-ray vision,” deadpanned Allardyce. “Somebody has suggested his (Nolan’s) head was offside. If the linesman can see his head is offside, then he’s a superman for me.
“I have no doubt it was a goal and 2-2. But it’s our fault. Referees and assistant referees make mistakes, you have to accept that.
“We waited patiently to get an equaliser and when we got it, unfortunately, the assistant referee dropped a massive bollock.
“He’s to blame as much as our deficiencies in front of goal, but if we hadn’t been so stupid in the first place and gifted them two goals, I wouldn’t be as frustrated as I am.” – Agence France-Presse