The new angel of Old Trafford? Former bad boy Rooney has just ONE booking this season
Published 22:30 10/04/12 By David McDonnell
What a difference a year has made for Wayne Rooney.
This time last season, the striker was hit with a two-match ban for swearing into a TV camera after scoring a hat-trick for Manchester United in an epic 4-2 win at West Ham.
It meant he missed United’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester City, which Sir Alex Ferguson’s side lost, and suggested the striker had not learned from past mistakes. Twelve months on and Rooney would appear to have wised up on the pitch, not picking up a booking in 28 Premier League appearances this season.
It is a remarkable statistic for a player for whom aggression and tenacity are key, with Rooney having averaged 10 yellow cards a season during his professional career.
Against such an umblemished disciplinary backdrop, it makes even more bizarre the straight red Rooney received for a bad-tempered kick against Montenegro, which will see him miss England’s opening two games at Euro 2012.
In fact, the only caution Rooney has received this season came in United’s opening Champions League group game away to Benfica, last September.
Even that booking could be deemed harsh, Rooney penalised for kicking the ball away and pleading with the ref that he had simply not heard the whistle in the noisy Estadio Da Luz.
United boss Ferguson believes Rooney, who has bagged 32 goals in all competitions this season, has put his petulant past behind him.
“You always see a maturity about players when they reach their mid-20s,” said Ferguson.
“Along with their ability comes the maturity, the thought patterns and the timing – it all comes into their game. They are more in control of themselves in terms of what they are capable of doing. Experience helps, of course.
“I don’t think Wayne’s had many bookings, but as a team we haven’t had that many compared with others. And we’ve only had one sending-off – Jonny Evans.”
Rooney’s card count peaked with 14 cautions for club and country in 2007-08, since when it has lessened, resulting in this season’s remarkable absence of any domestic bookings.
And his control has been shared by his United team-mates, as Ferguson’s men look to take a step closer to title No.20 tonight.
Apart from the three-game ban served by Evans following his red card against Manchester City in United’s 6-1 defeat October, Ferguson’s side have not had a player suspended this term.
United are expected to rest Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, with Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley recalled.
Most appearances without a caution in the Premier League this season
Appearances Yellow Cards
Matt Jarvis Wolves 32 0
Danny Graham Swansea City 30 0
David Silva Manchester City 30 0
Wayne Rooney Manchester United 28 0
Chris Eagles Bolton Wanderers 28 0
Gareth McAuley West Bromwich Albion 27 0
Bryan Ruiz Fulham 27 0
Javier Hernández Manchester United 25 0
Gabriel Obertan Newcastle United 22 0