Rooney boxes clever but raises questions over knockout blow

Jose Mourinho says Arsenal are rivals to Chelsea for Premier League title

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney applauds the fans after the match against Tottenham Hotspur  at Old Trafford, Manchester.  Photograph: Jon Buckle/PA Wire.

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney applauds the fans after the match against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photograph: Jon Buckle/PA Wire.

 

Manchester United defeated Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 with a dominant display that enhanced their Champions League qualification hopes and dealt a serious blow to those of the north London club.

While Louis van Gaal’s side remain in fourth place they are only two points behind Manchester City, who are second, following an afternoon in which Wayne Rooney scored United’s third before offering a celebration that mocked a Sunday newspaper story about him being knocked out in a friendly boxing bout.

After scoring past Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris, Rooney threw a few air punches and collapsed backwards to ape the footage of him being left unconscious by a punch from Stoke City’s Phil Bardsley in the England captain’s own kitchen last month.

Afterwards Rooney and Van Gaal were keen to deflect attention from an incident that, in the current climate, may have raised concerns about the effects of a potential concussion for the striker who took to the field six days later. Asked about the celebration, Rooney said: “That’s the world we live in today. It was a few mates in a private house which has somehow managed to get on the front page of a national newspaper. I have to accept that. It was me and a few friends joking around.

“I’ve just been focused on the game, it’s more interesting for other people rather than for myself. You’ve seen today, I’ve done a professional job, got on with the game and gladly helped my team win 3-0.”

When it was suggested that as United and England captain he perhaps has to be more discreet, Rooney said: “It’s in my own home, I know it’s got out but it’s not public. It’s what friends do – they mess around in the house and unfortunately it has made the front page of a national newspaper. I will just deal with it.”

Van Gaal was unhappy at being asked about the episode. “In what world do we live that we are talking about such a thing – that a newspaper paid a lot for a video and I am answering questions about that? What is this world, twisted? I don’t want to answer questions about such things.

“I think it is a ridiculous world where we live that I have to answer questions about such a matter.”

Pressed whether this would be “ridiculous” if Rooney had suffered concussion or an injury Van Gaal said: “I don’t have any comment. I have said that.”

Michael Carrick, who scored United’s second, admitted Rooney had been teased about the incident by team-mates although he refused to say what was said.

The episode is reported to have occurred on February 22nd, six days before Rooney played against Sunderland and scored both goals in a 2-0 win. While six days is the minimum guideline period put in place by the English FA before a player can play again, the governing body may decide to investigate to establish whether United were aware of their captain being knocked out and if any remedial action was taken.

Last season Lloris played on following a concussion and in rugby there is a graduated return protocol for players in which they are constantly assessed for six days with contact drills are minimised.

Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho considers Arsenal to be rivals in a three-way title race, but only if they retain the form demonstrated against West Ham last Saturday rather than that exposed in the recent defeat to Monaco in the Champions League.

Chelsea passed up a chance to move eight points clear of Manchester City, and nine of Arsene Wenger’s side, by drawing 1-1 with Southampton after Dusan Tadic’s disputed penalty cancelled out Diego Costa’s first goal in two months. Arsenal have won eight of their previous nine league games and host Chelsea on April 26th. Guardian Service

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