From the Mirror / Reuters :

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson dismissed a newspaper report on Sunday that striker Wayne Rooney had gambling debts of 700,000 pounds.

He told Sky Sports after Rooney (above) had scored one and made the other in a pulsating 2-0 Premier League win over Arsenal: “It’s absolute rubbish.”

Man of the match Rooney, asked whether the morning headlines had bothered him, said: “I think if you look at my performance then you can answer that yourself.”

The Sunday Mirror said Rooney had run up the debts since the start of the season. He and four international team mates were part of what had started as a “light-hearted school” but had run out of control, the paper said.

The other players had enjoyed some success, but Rooney had lost heavily, betting on horses, dogs and soccer matches he was not involved in, the Sunday Mirror said.

Ferguson said he had no concern about Rooney’s lifestyle and launched a broadside at the media.

“I have said this time and time again but unfortunately today we have a media who want to examine every part of him.

“We had George Best in the 60s, we had Paul Gascoigne, then we had David Beckham. They search for somebody who will fill a headline.

“Of course, along comes Wayne Rooney, it’s manna from heaven for them. It’s a load of nonsense and I just dismiss it all completely.”

If, however, there is some validity to these claims, perhaps young Wayne — who has had a bit of girlfriend trouble — could combine his love of older women with his gambling habit? I’m not saying the Gretzky marriage is anything less than solid, but surely Rooney would have to be loony not to acknowledge Janet Jones as a Mom He’d Like To Wager With?