Is Rooney fit to be captain?

MANCHESTER - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has 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 in West Ham's half, but van Gaal was reluctant to talk about 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 nor 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.

Unfortunately, it was not Rooney's goal that dominated the post-match analysis but the red card, even though 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 the manager 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," van Gaal admitted.

"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."