Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has refused to condemn Wayne Rooney for his latest red card, insisting the striker has "shown tremendous improvement in his temperament" in recent years.
Ferguson is expecting to see United's star striker today for the first time since Rooney was sent off for lashing out during England's 2-2 draw in Montenegro.
The incident has already led to a minimum one-match ban and a warning from Fabio Capello, the England coach, that the 25 year old may not find it easy to win his place back at Euro 2012.
Ferguson has still to see the actual incident. However, after witnessing an improvement in the player's temperament over the past couple of years, a rebuke appears unlikely.
"I have texted him but he has not got back to me," Ferguson revealed in an interview on US-based digital radio station Sirius XM's 'The Football Show'.
"He will be disappointed. I haven't seen it at all but it sounds like it was one of these reflex actions by the boy. He has been tackled and he has reacted.
"He has this fiery temper which, to my mind, is not the worst thing in the world."
Ferguson was asked if he ever feared he would not be able to "harness his energies in a positive way".
"We do that," Ferguson said. "He has shown tremendous improvement in his temperament and his reactions to tackles and things over the past few years.
"As maturity comes along it brings other things. It brings responsibility. He is improving all the time."
It has been suggested Rooney reacted to the pressure he was under following his father's arrest on Friday, not that Ferguson was offering any opinion on that matter.
"I have no idea," he said. "It is difficult to say with these things. I will see him tomorrow."