Rooney outburst allows FA to show its teeth
Even if Manchester United eventually succeed in any attempt to reduce Wayne Rooney's ban to one match, the Football Association will feel it has sent a message in taking such tough and swift action against the Manchester United player.
A message to the game's super-rich performers that it expects them to set a better example to the millions of youngsters who idolise them.
A message that it will not be afraid of reputations when it comes to cracking down on those who step out of line.
And a message to the politicians and other football leaders who have questioned the FA's lack of leadership.
The FA insists its disciplinary procedures are entirely independent, but Rooney's foul-mouthed outburst could not have come at a better time.
Last week, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore tried to claim the game's moral high ground by announcing a new zero tolerance initiative on player behaviour.
Rooney swore into a TV camera lens after completing his hat-trick. Photo: Getty
The move exposed the FA's perceived failings at a time when politicians are looking for reasons not to step in and regulate the game.
So who better to use as an example of their fast track justice system than the country's most high profile player?
Manchester United will be well aware of the wider political and reputational considerations for the FA and will no doubt rail against the injustice of it all.
But Rooney has left them without a leg to stand on.
Their best hope of ensuring Rooney doesn't miss the FA Cup semi-final against local rivals Manchester City may be in accepting the charge but arguing mitigating circumstances.
While keen not to use it as an excuse, one source close to the player claimed Rooney had faced vitriolic levels of abuse from West Ham fans at Upton Park on Saturday.
He also suggested the player was under extraordinary levels of pressure from the media.
That won't wash with many fans who help pay the wages of multi-millionaire players at a time when they are feeling the financial squeeze.
Scudamore suggested there had been a shift in public mood last week when he said the sport had to realise the time had come to work harder on standards of behaviour.
Despite all his problems on and off the pitch this season, Wayne Rooney remains English football's greatest asset. The FA's decision to ban him has provided another harsh reminder that he has a much wider responsibility to the game.