With United 2-1 up against Preston last night, Phil Dowd awarded a penalty after Wayne Rooney went to ground in the box.

A penalty is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following offences in the penalty area in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
trips or attempts to trip an opponent
jumps at an opponent
charges an opponent
strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
pushes an opponent
tackles an opponent
holds an opponent
spits at an opponent
handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

Thorsten Stuckmann got nowhere near the ball and if Rooney hadn’t jumped out of the way, he would have been clattered. Rooney can’t be punished for choosing not to get smashed in to by a keeper. By the laws of the game, that is a penalty.

Even Preston’s manager, Simon Grayson, could accept it was a penalty: “I am not saying it wasn’t a penalty. I’m saying there was no contact. It wasn’t a dive. He’s gone to get out of the way and taken evasive action.”

Is a player expected to stay in the firing line of a careless or reckless challenge to ensure that the correct decision is made?

When Rooney made a reckless challenge on Niko Kranjčar, making no contact, he was booked for it. Was this the wrong decision? I don’t remember many non-United fans arguing that no contact had been made so no punishment should have been given.

When Andy Cole leapt out of the way of a reckless and careless challenge from Cristiano Ronaldo, where were all the non-United fans saying the Portuguese winger had been unfairly sent off?

Did Rooney choose to go to ground after the foul or was his fall the result of jumping out of the way of Stuckman? Out of interest, the goalie is 6ft 6in and weighs over 15 stone. When someone is sprinting at full pelt then has to jump out of the way of a massive lump speeding his way, are we experts on how that player should land? Are all hurdlers who clear their hurdle but then fall over “divers” too?

Still, whether Rooney made the choice to go the ground or not, which is a matter of personal opinion, it doesn’t negate the fact he was fouled, according to FIFA’s laws of the game, and the penalty was the correct decision.