By Jonathan Birchall & Stephen Darwin
Manchester United and Wayne Rooney took the step of reacting to a newspaper story that had not even been published on Friday night - refuting a leaked rumour that suggested the striker was heading for the Old Trafford exit door over a fall-out with Sir Alex Ferguson.
The report touched on an alleged fractious relationship developing between player and manager, stemming from the England striker's apparent decision to embark on a night out with wife Coleen that seemingly led to him being dropped for the home defeat to Blackburn Rovers on New Year's Eve.
As the famous saying goes - there's no smoke without fire - and Rooney has certainly developed an inadvertent knack of dominating back, and sometimes front, page headlines - and occasionally for reasons that do not involve the use of his left or right boot.
So with the Premier League champions and Rooney himself doing the utmost to sweep the latest controversial story under the rug, Goal.com takes a look at the sagas that have plagued the 26-year-old during his Manchester United career.
|SENT OFF AGAINST VILLARREAL
Rooney's second bookable offence at El Madrigal on September 14, 2005 could have been partly excused for being borne out of inexperience, as the striker sarcastically clapped in referee Kim Milton Nielsen's face after picking up his first yellow card.
"Sarcastic play is not allowed - the referee cannot accept that," the Danish official said to the BBC in the aftermath of the 0-0 draw as questions over Rooney's temperament followed.The greater indictment, however, was to come from Ferguson, as the United manager openly backed the referee's decision to send off the teenager for his behaviour. Undoubtedly aware of his burgeoning striker's short fuse, the Scot appeared keen to instil a sense of discipline into the youngster.
|MOYES LOOKS TO SUE OVER AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Rooney's inability to maintain a dignified silence was to prove his downfall once again just over 18 months later, as former boss at Everton David Moyes moved to sue the striker in relation to claims made in his autobiography, My Story So Far.
Thought to have been livid over passages in which Rooney blamed Moyes for his departure from the club to Manchester, the Goodison Park boss claimed that the book "injured his professional and personal reputation and caused serious embarrassment and distress".
An out-of-court settlement was eventually reached between the pair in 2008, with the United man said to have apologised to his former mentor over the claims a year later.
|LOSES THE PLOT AT THE COTTAGE
If petulance has too often proved to be Rooney's downfall, then there is no greater example of the forward lacking maturity than in his sending off in United's 2-0 defeat to Fulham in 2009.
With the Red Devils a goal, and a man down following Paul Scholes's earlier dismissal, the travelling fans looked to the talismanic Rooney to be the catalyst required to turn the game around with United's title challenge looking set for another slip.
His response, although explosive, was to all but bring an end to his side's chances in west London, as a frustrating perfomance was followed by a late second booking for throwing the ball away and a walk to the dressing room that saw the striker swing a punch at the corner flag.
|CAMERA CLAIM LANDS ROONEY IN HOT WATER
Having taken to the TV cameras on a number of occasions in his career, Rooney's mouthing of "12 men" following United's damaging defeat to Chelsea in 2009 is often overlooked.
It wasn't at the time as the FA gave the Old Trafford man a severe warning over his future conduct after deeming the striker to have implied bias on the part of referee Martin Atkinson after a number of decisions looked to go against Ferguson's side in the 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
|INJURY IN MUNICH LEADS TO POOR STREAK
In no way the striker's fault, of course, but Rooney's ankle ligament injury that he first suffered against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena was to start a drop in form from the England international of such length and depth that questions surfaced over whether he would ever be a world-class striker again.
In a downward slump that only avalanched through circumstances that would follow, including a terrible World Cup in South Africa, Rooney went five months without a goal and saw Dimitar Berbatov become goalscorer-in-chief at the Theatre of Dreams.
|PERSONAL PROBLEMS SEE HIM DROPPED
Sir Alex Ferguson took the decision to take his star striker out of the spotlight at Goodison Park, dropping him from the squad to face his former club after revelations into his private life.
With the Toffees' faithful hardly enamoured with the England forward as it is after his somewhat acrimonious exit from his boyhood club back in 2004, Sir Alex opted against putting him in the firing line after reports claimed he had paid prostitutes for sex while wife Coleen was pregnant.
United would go on to draw the match having held what looked a comfortable 3-1 lead with fans left pondering what might have been had their influential front man taken his place in the starting XI.
|HANDS IN A TRANSFER REQUEST
In what transpired to be one of the biggest and most controversial football stories of the year, Rooney shocked United – and particularly Sir Alex Ferguson – when it emerged that the former Everton man had asked to leave Old Trafford.
A “dumbfounded” Sir Alex faced the press the following day to reveal to his visible astonishment that his best player wanted to quit and had no intention of signing a new contract over a perceived lack of ambition from the Red Devils.
The United striker then performed a bizarre and equally incredible U-turn just a few days later, committing himself to a new five-year deal at the Theatre of Dreams.
|GETS AWAY WITH ELBOW ON McCARTHY
Rooney’s right elbow was the next body part to cause controversy after the 26-year-old was accused of delivering a blow to the face of Wigan Athletic midfielder James McCarthy.
The off-the-ball incident occurred in the ninth minute at the DW Stadium during a game which United would go on to comfortably win 4-0 – with Rooney himself on the scoresheet – although the striker’s temperament was again being called into question.
Television replays showed Rooney had indeed connected with McCarthy’s face although the United man escaped any retrospective punishment after referee Mark Clattenburg deemed the incident was appropriately dealt with at the time.
|CAMERA RANT SEES STRIKER BANNED
Rooney’s conduct came into focus once more in April 2011, when, having completed his hat-trick during a fixture against West Ham, the United forward proceeded to direct a foul-mouthed rant at a television camera.
The outburst prompted an apology from the broadcaster airing the match to millions of viewers around the world as Rooney again came under scrutiny nearly a year after he had made his feelings known to England supporters at the World Cup through the lens of a camera.
Rooney pleaded provocation ignited by Hammers fans as the reason for him letting off steam although it did not save the hot-headed forward from a two-match ban - a punishment that led to him missing the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City.
|DROPPED AFTER BOXING DAY NIGHT OUT
Even with all their defensive problems, it should have been a straightforward three points for United when they faced bottom of the table Blackburn at home on New Year’s Eve but, with Rooney dropped, it proved anything but.
The Red Devils’ attacker was left out of the squad entirely by Sir Alex with widespread reports suggesting he was being punished for opting to hit the town on Boxing Day night with wife Coleen and team-mates Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson.
The England international was also reportedly hit with a £200,000 fine and was forced to watch on from the stands as United collapsed to a 3-2 home defeat to Steve Kean’s side.
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