Saturday’s all-Manchester semi-final clash at Wembley included several impressive performances. Both keepers were excellent throughout, Kompany and Vidic were their usual imperious selves, Yaya Toure consistently drove into the heart of the opposition midfield, whilst even comedian Paddy McGuinness’s camp younger brother put in a rare decent display at right-back for the reds.

So it came as something of a surprise when the Man of the Match award, sponsored by Eon, was awarded to Wayne Rooney, who was suspended from the tie and forced to watch the whole proceedings from the sidelines.

It is believed to be the first instance of an absentee winning the award since the late eighties, an equally mortifying gaffe that again involved the same channel and Manchester United. On that occasion Ron Atkinson proudly proclaimed Bryan ‘Robbo’ Robson the MOTM ‘by a country mile’ not realising that he was injured that day and was watching, besuited, in the stands.

ITV are now ruefully regretting their decision to throw the vote open to the general public with an executive confiding his immense disappointment and embarrassment exclusively to the Cutter.

‘It just goes to show, once again, the imbecilic level of intelligence of our audience. To be perfectly honest with you I wouldn’t have been remotely surprised to see Ant and Dec share the award. This has made us look very foolish and, to my eyes, they are nothing more than cud-chewing advert fodder. Thank goodness the demographic for such a game is predominantly under the age of sixty or else David Jason would have won by a landslide’.

‘It’s our own fault for meddling with a tried and trusted method. Usually we entrust the vote to the boys in the studio who pick whoever scored the winning goal. It’s something we’ve done for years and nobody seems to have a problem with that.’

Viewer Eileen Treblegone from Aldershot in Hants however is insistent that the public isn’t necessarily to blame for the error.

She herself voted for Rooney and claims that, though he wasn’t even eligible to play, the simian cusser received just as much screen-time as any player on the pitch.

‘I genuinely thought he was playing, considering the amount of times the cameras zoomed in on his disagreeable face. Every time United had any form of attack during the first hour they immediately panned to him being animated, displaying encouragement or dismay. My thinking was that, despite all the negative press he’s received lately, there he was on the pitch, perhaps not enjoying much possession, but still showing heartfelt commitment to the cause. I felt he should be rewarded for that.’

‘I assumed he’d been substituted after the hour mark though because once City went ahead they stopped showing him altogether.’

The reason for this can be explained by Rooney having to leave the game early to race back to his native Liverpool where he was due to be best man at a friend’s wedding. Which also explains the strange tracky top and tie combo.