Young Wigan Athletic midfielder James McCarthy was last night handed a three-match ban via video evidence for his astonishing assault upon England’s ‘White Pele’ on Saturday.

The punishment was dished out to the promising McCarthy after the FA asked highly-rated referee Mark Clattenburg to review his initially erroneous decision to award Wigan with a free-kick following the incident. Crucially they received clarification from the official that he did not clearly witness what had occurred which allowed them to impose the ban retroactively.

Our source within FA headquarters reveals, ‘Mark was flabbergasted and not a little embarrassed when he saw the clip again. He honestly thought there had merely been a harmless ‘coming together’ of the two players off the ball and because McCarthy appeared to come off worse he duly blew up and favoured the young Irishman. After checking that Wazza was okay with a quick cuddle he then proceeded with the game.’

‘On seeing it again however it was very apparent to him that McCarthy spotted Rooney approaching and launched an unprovoked vicious assault, leading with his head into our game’s saviour, and we simply cannot tolerate such thuggery. Thankfully the head-butt was mis-aimed and he connected only with Wayne’s elbow. The lad has a photo shoot to launch the national team’s third kit on Thursday and it doesn’t bear thinking about if that little hooligan had damaged his angelic face.’

Wigan have the right to appeal but risk a further one match extension to the ban if it is unsuccessful.

Our source collapsed into fits of laughter when such a possibility was put to him.

‘Yeah, good luck with that Wigan! Their player ruthlessly targeted a lovely young boy who is bravely trying to get his life back on track after those awful tabloid lies about him cavorting with ladies of the night. If we had the appropriate powers we would have suspended McCarthy for a season or more.’

It is believed that Clattenburg has phoned Sir Alex Ferguson personally to apologize for his gaffe and, although his contrition was begrudgingly accepted, he was given brusque instructions by the United gaffer not to let it happen again.

In other news it seems that Manchester United’s immunity from the laws of the game has filtered through to the player’s behaviour off the pitch too, as they now believe they can indulge in crime sprees across the North-West, free from prosecution.

Ian Waddington, a manager of a well-known jewellers in Deansgate, Manchester exclusively revealed to the Cutter that last week he was subjected to the most bizarre of attempted robberies.

‘A well-dressed man who I immediately recognized from the television – who I now know to be Rio Ferdinand – sauntered into our shop last Thursday and proceeded to take items of worth from the shelves and place them into a holdall. As brazen as day. When approached by a member of staff he opened up a wallet and flashed a silver badge that was the Manchester United insignia. He never said a word and genuinely believed that possessing such a badge permitted him to rob us blind. When I threatened to phone the police unless he returned our stock to its rightful place he began rambling about his employees ‘owning the dibble’ and that he and his team-mates were ‘untouchable’. I’m afraid I’m not a football fan so I didn’t fully understand his following comments but he then mentioned about how they had tested their theory earlier this season by getting their worst player…..Gareth Neville is it?… commit two glaringly obvious red-card offenses and see if he went unpunished for them. It appears that Mr Neville must have indeed got away with his purposeful misdemeanours because the man standing in front of me was supremely confident that he could simply walk away with property that did not belong to him. When I pressed the panic alarm however his assuredness seemed to leave him somewhat and he handed the watches and necklaces back to me and promptly scarpered’

United’s scrappy midfielder Darren Fletcher – a man so ugly he resembles a young General Ackbar from Return of the Jedi – was another player wrongly under the impression that the laws of the land did not apply to him.

He allegedly flashed his United badge at the payment window of a Drive-Thru MacDonalds this week before speeding off with his free burger and fries.