Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes says that the under-scrutiny Wayne Rooney has been made a "scapegoat" for England's World Cup failure.

22889 - Rooney is a 'scapegoat' - Scholes

Rooney has often been subjected to criticism this season, most notably when threatening to leave Old Trafford in October and more recently when he was hit with a two-game ban for swearing when celebrating his hat-trick goal against West Ham last weekend.

The striker's private life has also been the subject of debate over the past 12 months, while his form has suffered on the pitch, even if he appears to be returning to his best having scored the only goal in United's 1-0 Champions League win over Chelsea in midweek.

But Scholes believes Rooney has been unfairly targeted in the wake of England's highly disappointing performances in South Africa last summer.

"He has received stick ever since the World Cup," Scholes told United Review. "It seems as though he has been made a scapegoat for what happened, and that isn't right when there are 22 other players in the England squad.

"But Wayne showed at West Ham why he plays for us every week. He showed what he is capable of doing and gave a match-winning performance."

Meanwhile, former Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel has advised Rooney to make a clean break with the club and join Real Madrid. The Spanish club was mooted as a possible destination when Rooney said he would leave United earlier in the season, before signing a new contract.

"I think it would be good for him to get away," Schmeichel said. "It would be good for him to play for another club.

"Real Madrid, under Jose Mourinho, is somewhere that could handle him and get the best out of him. It is painful to say that the best player you have, which he is at United, he is better off trying something new. United will probably not sell him to another English club, but a change of scenery would help."