WAYNE Rooney was set to discover today whether he would face punishment for his attack on Wigan’s James McCarthy, with the rest of his Manchester United team-mates steeling themselves for a severe examination by Chelsea tomrorow night.
The contents of referee Mark Clattenburg’s report were due to be unveiled by the FA today.
If Rooney ends up facing a violent conduct charge, the north-east official will have to come up with a plausible explanation why he gave a free-kick for an incident he did not see.
Even then, the United striker could be free to face Chelsea if he decides to appeal against a charge, which Clattenburg’s own decision not to even book Rooney makes entirely possible, even if it raises the possibility of an extra match suspension for a frivolous appeal.
It brings uncertainty United could do without ahead of one of their most important matches of the season.
Chelsea might be 15 points behind the Premier League leaders now.
However, as Edwin van der Sar acknowledges, they will be desperate to win to claim a significant scalp in an otherwise difficult season.
“They will be looking for our scalp,” said the veteran Dutchman. “We would be the same in their situation. We know they will be eager to beat us, that is obvious.”
+ BIRMINGHAM’S on-loan striker Obafemi Martins admits he is in “dreamland” after scoring the last gasp Carling Cup final winner over Arsenal at Wembley.
Martins enabled Blues to win only the second major trophy in their history when he cashed in on a defensive error with only one minute of normal time remaining to seal a 2-1 win.
The former Newcastle player only joined City on loan from Rubin Kazan a month ago but he has already ensured his place in the club’s folklore.
Martins had been on the pitch just six minutes when he scored his close-range winner after Nikola Zigic’s early goal had been cancelled out by Gunners skipper Robin van Persie.
Martins said: “The fans are very happy that we’ve won, and winning a trophy is one of the best feelings in the world. I think it is not easy coming here when the team did a lot to get to the final.”
+ MANAGER Roberto Mancini has warned Mario Balotelli he cannot think his work is done once he has scored. The controversial Manchester City striker scored his ninth goal of the campaign at Eastlands, where Fulham earned a 1-1 draw thanks to Damien Duff’s equaliser.
“I am not happy with Mario,” said Mancini. “I know him very well and I know he can play better. He can play for the team.”
+ EVERTON manager David Moyes believes striker Jermaine Beckford is showing that he can step up to Premier League level after his double in the 2-0 win over Sunderland at Goodison.
Beckford moved to Merseyside from Leeds on a free transfer last summer but initially appeared to struggle with the transition from League One to the top flight.
But his double against the Black Cats took his tally to eight and moved Everton into the top half of the table for the first time this campaign.
Moyes said: “When we brought him to the club the idea was we brought him on slowly and we had to put him in a bit too early.”