Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he left Wayne Rooney out of the team which drew 3-3 at Everton on Saturday to protect him from the "terrible abuse" he is subjected to at Goodison Park.
Rooney joined United six years ago and Everton fans have never forgiven him for leaving the club so early in his career. He was sure to get even more abuse following the revelations about the player's private life in the last seven days.
The striker will return against Rangers in the Champions League on Tuesday.
"We made the decision simply because he gets terrible abuse here," explained the United manager. "We were not going to subject him to that abuse. We've got a fantastic squad and we'll use it. He'll play on Tuesday, yes."
Some sections of the press claimed on Sunday that Rooney was left out as punishment for his off-field behaviour and that the player was desperate to play at his old stomping ground.
David Beckham has backed Sir Alex's decision to drop Rooney.
"Sir Alex Ferguson knows more than me and definitely knows more than anyone about his players,'' Beckham told Sky Sports News. "He has obviously made a decision what is best for for him and for his team.
"He's definitely being looked after by the right club and the right manager and with the right people around him. He's a great footballer at the end of the day.''