A fallen Knight

Peter Fraser watched as Sir Alex Ferguson represented a betrayed man in the wake of the Wayne Rooney saga

Last updated: 20th October 2010  

A fallen Knight

Ferguson: Stunned by Rooney

As a visibly hurt Ferguson spoke at the front of a crowded assembly, you could have been forgiven for thinking that you spotted a tear.

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For a Knight of the Realm, there is an honour and code of conduct to be adhered to in battle. Integrity, loyalty, faith and respect were a part of life as contests took place on the field of war in the Middle Ages. Times, though, have changed.

Fights have long been transferred to a different stage since the days when knighthoods were first awarded, but Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has perhaps been introduced for the first time to the painfully cold-hearted attitude of the 21st Century.

In the legend of King Arthur and his roundtable, swords, steeds and jousts were the weapons of choice to strike misery into the hearts of others. In the current climate of Premier League boardrooms, agents, BlackBerrys and iPhones are very much more deadly than forged metal.

Ferguson has been left crushed as a result of Wayne Rooney's intimation that he wants to end his six-year association with United. As Sir Alex confirmed his worst fears to the media on Tuesday afternoon, he appeared a broken man, a fallen Knight.

The 68-year-old is normally a fearsome individual, a tower of character strength, known for his hairdryer ability to reduce grown men to quivering wrecks. But when addressing a press conference shortly after 2pm he was a shadow of his usual self.


From a man hardened on the streets of Govan in the southwest outskirts of Glasgow city centre, emotion is normally in short supply. However, as a visibly hurt Ferguson spoke at the front of a crowded assembly, you could have been forgiven for thinking that you spotted a tear.

What happened to the man who ruthlessly shed the likes of Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy and David Beckham after a difference of opinion? As Ferguson sat at a microphone-covered desk and flashbulbs clicked, the Old Trafford boss meekly unfolded a piece of paper and slumped with sunken shoulders and arms folded on top of the table. There was no need for experts in body language.

Ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League match against Bursaspor, Ferguson was expected to snap back at any journalist who dared to question the subject of the out-of-form Rooney. But instead he appeared heartbroken, devastated and betrayed as he delivered a five-minute speech on the situation.

"There could be a million questions on the subject. I can't answer. I can't give an opinion..." opened the Scotsman before going on to deliver a mixture of sighs, half-hearted hand gestures and lengthy stares at the ground. He progressed to say that Rooney was not fit to face Bursaspor as a result of his ongoing ankle injury, but the truth seems different.

Paul Stretford, Rooney's representative, had informed United's chief executive, David Gill, who went on to tell Ferguson, in August that his client had no intention of signing a new contract at Old Trafford, where he has become a worldwide star since arriving from Everton in 2004.

United's manager is therefore having to deal with a situation which is emerging as the most bitter, turbulent and sensational transfer saga in recent memory. In his own words, he has no answer.

Finance or football

Whether motivated by finance or football, Rooney, who Everton fans still label as Judas for his 'once a blue, always a blue' affiliation, appears to have grown disillusioned by debt-ridden United's failure to chase big-money signings and expand amid a global recession.

Unthinkably for those in red who have already watched Carlos Tevez move across town, the billionaires at Manchester City will already be making enquiries as a January transfer window exit now seems a certainty. Real Madrid and Barcelona will also be paying attention.

Ferguson thinks that he has invested in Rooney, helped his development into an icon and has stood by the 24-year-old throughout injury problems and scandals surrounding his personal life. There has apparently been no argument between player and boss, but to not receive mutual appreciation comes as a truly overwhelming setback.

Was it all an act from Ferguson, a master of mind games? If so, he deserves an Academy Award. Is pressure being applied from above? Time will tell. But for United's manager, there appears to be a definite feeling of astonishment.

The Knight of the Realm spoke of the need for Rooney to respect their club's heritage and tradition, but his appearance suggested that his vertebrae have been separated by a joust.

Comments (34)

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Junaid Omar says...

I have to admit , as a manchester united fan i am devastated at the news that wayne rooney wants out of our club . But on the other hand , the problem here lies with the Glazers . They are ruining this club , and if nothing is done soon i am sorry to say that Manchester United are heading for the gutters .

Posted 08:51 20th October 2010

Jenny Cheshire (Manchester United fan) says...

Ronaldo to Spain and Tevex to City - worst losses in recent years; Rooney to City or Chelsea would be equally hard to take (especially as my other half is a Chelsea supporter) but in all honesty is he really ging to be missed - how much has he done for us in recent games anyway?? Let him be a "traitor" - he gave us his best when he had it but maybenow its time he grew up and concentrated on his marriage and is son

Posted 07:38 20th October 2010

Jabulani Hlophe (Manchester United fan) says...

I am a Man U Fan in South Africa and just as shocked as everyone however no one is bigger than a world class club like Man U he has betrayed us even though its painfully let him go ang get Benzima and play Owen Berba and Hernanderz as a strikeforce. he must remember what happened to Ince,Becham, Van nisteroy and others. Man U for Life

Posted 07:22 20th October 2010

Joeseph Stewart says...

I am absolutely shocked & devastated. I adored Rooney...felt really bad to see the great man like that, he looked 90 yrs old yesterday. SAF was a father figure to Rooney, this is the ultimate betrayal...United will rise again!

Posted 06:54 20th October 2010

Mr Gorilla (Liverpool fan) says...

It really wouldn''''t surprise me if Rooney went abroad rather than City, not for football or financial reasons, but to get away from the British press? Maybe he''''s hoping Coleen won''''t understand what the Spannish word for Brothel is?

Posted 05:39 20th October 2010

Neil Mccarthy (Manchester United fan) says...

Jake Reilly hit the nail on the head. British tabloid media is quick to "draw swords" to continue the run of cliches from the above article and quick to overlook that any successful team has eleven players. Cantona had ten behind him when he was deemed God; likewise Shearer had a hardworking, tenacious Blackburn engine for his only PL medal. Was it Jose banging in the goals for Chelsea? No. Don''''t disrespect the squad. Without Rooney, United will continue to be up there and win things. And off with the heads of those who speak ill of the Knight of the Realm.

Posted 05:39 20th October 2010

Steve In aus (Chelsea fan) says...

Even as a Chelsea fan I hate to see SAF like that. I''''ve never liked the little scally and hope he doesnt go to the Bridge. If he has any sense (which I doubt) he will move abroad. If he goes to Citeh he will be as hated in the North and as poor Ashley Cole is in the South. I''''m sure Man U will bounce back from this...

Posted 05:01 20th October 2010

Brian Smith says...

The outrage from United fans is hypocrisy writ large. How many times over the past 20 years have they unsettled and then ripped the best player out of the heart of other "lesser" teams. They were happy to do it to Everton but now they are on the receiving end they are questioning the very nature of football itself. The bully finally gets his just dessert. Listen to him whine and cry.

Posted 03:36 20th October 2010

George Hardaker (Liverpool fan) says...

he betrayed Everton, now you know how they felt! what makes UTD diffeent? only thier arrogance

Posted 01:09 20th October 2010

Ricky Hoggard says...

You are all missing the biggest point.On the same day he spits his dummy out and and the money he is going to earn at Man City (if it goes thru) is announced.500,000 jobs are shed.Soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq to no job.Wake up you delusional football fans ,this used to be a working class game with real men.Now its played by mercenary scum with no loyalty.They should hang there heads in shame and I for one hope football goes broke asits only a matter of time.

Posted 00:19 20th October 2010

Steve The red says...

Unbelievable, why does he want to leave? Need for him to speak directly not his money grabbing agent, who should change his name from Stretford to T**t. On a more realistic note i would want to leave if if i had Carrick,Gibson,Anderson and Park behind me!!!

Posted 00:17 20th October 2010

Ashe Mohammed (Manchester United fan) says...

No one man is bigger than the club and at united we are used to it,many have gone and never really recovered their true form they once had.As Tommy Docherty once said when you leave united there is only one way you are going and that is DOWN. So good bye MR ROONEY we dont need you MANCHESTER UNITED WAS a BIG CLUB before came and STILL BE BIG AFTER YOU GONE.

Posted 00:00 20th October 2010

James Tarenyika (Liverpool fan) says...

what goes around comes around FERGIE you have finally met your match ROONEY will retire you

Posted 23:58 19th October 2010

Phil P says...

Fergie probably knows that the manchester utd era is over. No team fears them anymore. there debt ridden. scholes giggs n van der saar are at the end of there careers rio is injury prone. the youngsters r not good enough to rebuild the empire n he cant go out and buy the top players to turn things round. I think its time for Fergie to go and enjoy retirement instead of staying and seeing his empire he built crumble around him because unless someone like Bill Gates comes in and gets the glazers out theres no hope.

Posted 23:39 19th October 2010

Karl Taylor (Manchester United fan) says...

My opinion is if he wants to go let him. I''''d rather Fergie go out and get somebody that wants to play for the Club. After last season maybe thats going to be the best we are going get out of him. A poor World Cup and poor performances this season probably is time to cash in on him and bring some fresh new talent in who wants to challenge for titles, cups and more importantly wear the United shirt.

Posted 23:14 19th October 2010

Denis Law says...

Absolutely laughable! Rooney sees a sinking ship with no money, best players approaching retirement and a manager who thinks investment is buying a tramp! Is it any wonder he decides he''''s off to a club with ambition, with a future, with unlimited resources and no debt?

Posted 23:14 19th October 2010

Freddy Kane says...

I personally felt SAF spoke very well about the situation, covered all areas, and was obviously still a little bit surprised by the whole predicament, as is everybody! But I''''d rather have SAF at United than Rooney, and if we get a good price then i''''m sure it will be used wisely to re-invest.

Posted 22:57 19th October 2010

Tony Coles (Manchester United fan) says...

If Wayne Rooney leaves United he will go the way of others DOWN. He may be richer but then he''''ll need the extra cash to give to his wife when she divorces him. At 24 or 25 as of Sunday you''''d think he''''d grown up but he hasn''''t. He''''s just a boy.

Posted 22:50 19th October 2010

Karl Noade says...

Brian Wallander he said he wanted to stay for life so he obviously loved the club, something must have happened to make him want a change ie the scandal and as for him being treated wrong? pure none sense, he was treated like a God. disappointed in the boy, thought he was loyal guess thats a dying breed of footballer

Posted 22:47 19th October 2010

Richard Mcelwee says...

This Rooney fiasco is yet further proof that the Glazers are destroying Manchester Utd. We lost out on the title last year to Chelsea but have done little to make up the deficit, while City have started to plug the gap. Rooney knew he couldn''''t carry the teams challenge year in, year out as he did so freakishly well last season. Yet there were no Ozil''''s, Silva''''s or Wesley Sneijder''''s coming through the Old Trafford door to support his efforts. Instead we pinned our hopes on a player that only 5 weeks previously was in the Portugese 3rd Division. You can almost bet that the income from Rooneys departure will go straight into servicing that debt by the way. And so once again we''''re forced to rely upon Giggs & Scholes, the best geriatrics in the league. We shouldn''''t get carried away with Liverpool too much. Once those two hang up their boots we''''ll be right there with them.

Posted 21:59 19th October 2010

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