Sunday, October 31, 2010

Schweinsteiger eyes England move

Schweinsteiger eyes England move

Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has revealed his ambition to play for an English club.

The Germany international, who is contracted at Bayern until 2012, has recently been linked to several Premier League sides, including Manchester United and Chelsea.

And 26-year-old Schweinsteiger has admitted his admiration for the English game, even joking United could exchange him for Wayne Rooney.

"I love the kind of speed of the English game but I don't know what will happen with me," Schweinsteiger said in The Sunday Times.

"I have a contract until 2012 and we'll see.

"What I love is the atmosphere in English stadiums. When we played last year in Manchester it was fantastic.

"My brother is a big fan of Man U and he always says, 'Go to Man U, go to Man U.' I say, 'I can't, I can't."

He laughed: "Maybe they can swap me for Rooney."

Schweinsteiger also expressed his appreciation of Chelsea's approach, adding: "I watch the English games on TV and I like the Chelsea style at the moment. They're very strong."

The midfielder admits his relationship with the Bayern fans has not always been good, and says he admires the loyalty of the English supporters.

"For me, in England the fans are better," he added. "When the team give their best, they are not booing.

"It's more like they are fans more with the heart."


Del Piero: "Now I want to reach 200 goals"

Del Piero: "Now I want to reach 200 goals"

  • "I want to continue doing good things for my team," he said.

31/10/1910 - 15:11.

Alessandro Del Piero became the Saturday night top scorer in Juventus history by scoring his goal 179. However, far from being satisfied, the Juventus striker said that "now my goal is to reach 200 goals. You always have to set new goals."

"I want to continue doing good things for my team. I have a great relationship with the club, we are talking about the future to continue at Juventus," concluded Del Piero.

A true legend, team player, true gentleman - terbaeekkk wok

Interview with Professor Wenger

United keep reputation intact

In his latest exclusive interview with Eurosport, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger discusses how important it was for Manchester United to keep hold of Wayne Rooney, and what would have been at stake for the club if he had left.

Were you surprised that Wayne Rooney is staying at Manchester United after the media talk?

It is a bit surprising because when you say publicly that your player is likely to leave, it means you have accepted the idea that he will do so.

A message to say: 'Come around the table, we are ready to sell the player.' So it is a bit surprising that they changed their mind.

It seems that United became aware of the consequences for the fans and the atmosphere inside the club if he did leave - especially considering the rise of Manchester City. It would have given them the reputation of being a declining club in comparison to the upwardly-mobile Citizens.

Afterwards, they had to take into account the impact signing Rooney to a new contract would have upon them, because it is going to be a big financial change. It means they have let Rooney have what he wants - and they are also going to be in trouble when it comes to renewing the contracts of the other players.

So the club's reputation was at stake?

When you let everybody know that you allowed your best player to leave at 25 years of age, rather than 30, it means that somehow there are clubs stronger than yours.

When you sell a player, you must consider what you are losing; the player himself, of course, but in addition all the consequences for people who follow the club. By that I mean the media, fans, the club's reputation and the indirect effect upon the other top players at the club, who may think: 'If the best players are leaving, what we are going to do now?'. So everyone at the club could start worrying.

Could the deal have been done in order to sell him for more money next June?

That is a really good question. However, if they sign him to a new contract for five years then sell him in June, it will be worse than if they had let him go now.

Were you convinced he was going to leave?

Yes, because when the club said they would talk about a transfer, I assumed they were ready to sell him.

If he had left, do you think it would only have been for another English club?

No, I think he might have moved anywhere in the world. Surely they would have been more open to a foreign club coming in for him than an English one - because the only domestic rival who could afford to buy him was their neighbour.

Do you think that he had to leave, considering the public opinion about his problems outside of football?

No, because people are focused on what happens on the field. What happens in a player's private life only feeds the scandal pages of the newspapers.

If you are 12 years of age, you only look at his performances on the pitch. You like him because he is able to do things you cannot do - and you want to copy him. You don't care about how he is living off the pitch.

Can he change the opinion of United fans?

Trust me: in this job, the only thing which changes everything is your performance on the pitch.

You could be the nicest, most elegant and polite guy in the world off the pitch - but if you are bad on it, everybody is going to hate you.

You can be unpleasant off the pitch, but if you are an extraordinary player, people will forgive you anything. It may not be fair, but it is the reality. People pay to see special things, and if you manage to give it to them, they enjoy it.

Would you have liked to sign him for Arsenal?

We never thought about it because we have enough people able to play up front. Moreover, if Manchester United are not able to pay his contract, Arsenal cannot even think about it.

So it means that he will keep scoring against you as he did in the past?

No, it doesn't mean he will keep annoying us - it just means that he will keep trying to annoy us. We will try to prevent him.

He likes to score against Arsenal.

Yes. He is world class player.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why ARE so many modern British career women converting to Islam?

Tony Blair’s sister-in-law announced her conversion to Islam last weekend. Journalist Lauren Booth embraced the faith after what she describes as a ‘holy experience’ in Iran.

She is just one of a growing number of modern British career women to do so. Here, writer EVE AHMED, who was raised as a Muslim before rejecting the faith, explores the reasons why.

Much of my childhood was spent trying to escape Islam.

Born in London to an English mother and a Pakistani Muslim father, I was brought up to follow my father’s faith without question.

But, privately, I hated it. The minute I left home for university at the age of 18, I abandoned it altogether.


Changing values: Camilla Leyland in Western and Muslim dress

As far as I was concerned, being a Muslim meant hearing the word ‘No’ over and over again.

Girls from my background were barred from so many of the things my English friends took for granted. Indeed, it seemed to me that almost anything fun was haram, or forbidden, to girls like me.

There were so many random, petty rules. No whistling. No chewing of gum. No riding bikes. No watching Top Of The Pops. No wearing make-up or clothes which revealed the shape of the body.

No eating in the street or putting my hands in my pockets. No cutting my hair or painting my nails. No asking questions or answering back. No keeping dogs as pets, (they were unclean).

And, of course, no sitting next to men, shaking their hands or even making eye contact with them.

These ground rules were imposed by my father and I, therefore, assumed they must be an integral part of being a good Muslim.

Small wonder, then, that as soon as I was old enough to exert my independence, I rejected the whole package and turned my back on Islam. After all, what modern, liberated British woman would choose to live such a life?

Well, quite a lot, it turns out, including Islam’s latest surprise convert, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth. And after my own break with my past, I’ve followed with fascination the growing trend of Western women choosing to convert to Islam.

Convert: Former DJ Lynne Ali

Convert: Former DJ Lynne Ali

Broadcaster and journalist Booth, 43, says she now wears a hijab head covering whenever she leaves home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque ‘when I can’.

She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom, and says: ‘It was a Tuesday evening, and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.’

Before her awakening in Iran, she had been ‘sympathetic’ to Islam and has spent considerable time working in Palestine. ‘I was always impressed with the strength and comfort it gave,’ she says.

How, I wondered, could women be drawn to a religion which I felt had kept me in such a lowly, submissive place? How could their experiences of Islam be so very different to mine?

According to Kevin Brice from Swansea University, who has specialised in studying white conversion to Islam, these women are part of an intriguing trend.

He explains: ‘They seek spirituality, a higher meaning, and tend to be deep thinkers. The other type of women who turn to Islam are what I call “converts of convenience”. They’ll assume the trappings of the religion to please their Muslim husband and his family, but won’t necessarily attend mosque, pray or fast.’

I spoke to a diverse selection of white Western converts in a bid to re-examine the faith I had rejected.

Women like Kristiane Backer, 43, a London-based former MTV presenter who had led the kind of liberal Western-style life that I yearned for as a teenager, yet who turned her back on it and embraced Islam instead. Her reason? The ‘anything goes’ permissive society that I coveted had proved to be a superficial void.

Ex-MTV Presenter Kristiane Backer with Mick Jagger in the late Eighties

Ex-MTV Presenter Kristiane Backer with Mick Jagger in the late Eighties

The turning point for Kristiane came when she met and briefly dated the former Pakistani cricketer and Muslim Imran Khan in 1992 during the height of her career. He took her to Pakistan where she says she was immediately touched by spirtuality and the warmth of the people.

Kristiane says: ‘Though our relationship didn’t last, I began to study the Muslim faith and eventually converted. Because of the nature of my job, I’d been out interviewing rock stars, travelling all over the world and following every trend, yet I’d felt empty inside. Now, at last, I had contentment because Islam had given me a purpose in life.’

‘In the West, we are stressed for super ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system.

'Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realised how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one god makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.

‘I grew up in Germany in a not very religious Protestant family. I drank and I partied, but I realised that we need to behave well now so we have a good after-life. We are responsible for our own actions.’

For a significant amount of women, their first contact with Islam comes from dating a Muslim boyfriend. Lynne Ali, 31, from Dagenham in Essex, freely admits to having been ‘a typical white hard-partying teenager’.

She says: ‘I would go out and get drunk with friends, wear tight and revealing clothing and date boys.

‘I also worked part-time as a DJ, so I was really into the club scene. I used to pray a bit as a Christian, but I used God as a sort of doctor, to fix things in my life. If anyone asked, I would’ve said that, generally, I was happy living life in the fast lane.’

But when she met her boyfriend, Zahid, at university, something dramatic happened.


Kristiane Backer as she is today

She says: ‘His sister started talking to me about Islam, and it was as if everything in my life fitted into place. I think, underneath it all, I must have been searching for something, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled by my hard-drinking party lifestyle.’

Lynne converted aged 19. ‘From that day, I started wearing the hijab,’ she explains, ‘and I now never show my hair in public. At home, I’ll dress in normal Western clothes in front of my husband, but never out of the house.’

With a recent YouGov survey concluding that more than half the British public believe Islam to be a negative influence that encourages extremism, the repression of women and inequality, one might ask why any of them would choose such a direction for themselves.

Yet statistics suggest Islamic conversion is not a mere flash in the pan but a significant development. Islam is, after all, the world’s fastest growing religion, and white adopters are an important part of that story.

‘Evidence suggests that the ratio of Western women converts to male could be as high as 2:1,’ says Kevin Brice.

Moreover, he says, often these female converts are eager to display the visible signs of their faith — in particular the hijab — whereas many Muslim girls brought up in the faith choose not to.

‘Perhaps as a result of these actions, which tend to draw attention, white Muslims often report greater amounts of discrimination against them than do born Muslims,’ adds Brice, which is what happened to Kristiane Backer.

She says: ‘In Germany, there is Islamophobia. I lost my job when I converted. There was a Press campaign against me with insinuations about all Muslims supporting terrorists — I was vilified. Now, I am a presenter on NBC Europe.

Several of the women I spoke to said strict Islamic dress was something they found empowering and liberating

‘I call myself a European Muslim, which is different to the ‘born’ Muslim. I was married to one, a Moroccan, but it didn’t work because he placed restrictions on me because of how he’d been brought up. As a European Muslim, I question everything — I don’t accept blindly.

‘But what I love is the hospitality and the warmth of the Muslim community. London is the best place in Europe for Muslims, there is wonderful Islamic culture here and I am very happy.’

For some converts, Islam represents a celebration of old-fashioned family values.

‘Some are drawn to the sense of belonging and of community — values which have eroded in the West,’ says Haifaa Jawad, a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, who has studied the white conversion phenomenon.

‘Many people, from all walks of life, mourn the loss in today’s society of traditional respect for the elderly and for women, for example. These are values which are enshrined in the Koran, which Muslims have to live by,’ adds Brice.

It is values like these which drew Camilla Leyland, 32, a yoga teacher who lives in Cornwall, to Islam. A single mother to daughter, Inaya, two, she converted in her mid-20s for ‘intellectual and feminist reasons’.

She explains: ‘I know people will be surprised to hear the words “feminism” and “Islam” in the same breath, but in fact, the teachings of the Koran give equality to women, and at the time the religion was born, the teachings went against the grain of a misogynistic society.

‘The big mistake people make is by confusing culture with religion. Yes, there are Muslim cultures which do not allow women individual freedom, yet when I was growing up, I felt more oppressed by Western society.’

She talks of the pressure on women to act like men by drinking and having casual sex. ‘There was no real meaning to it all. In Islam, if you begin a relationship, that is a commitment of intent.’

Growing up in Southampton — her father was the director of Southampton Institute of Education and her mother a home economics teacher — Camilla’s interest in Islam began at school.

She went to university and later took a Masters degree in Middle East Studies. But it was while living and working in Syria that she had a spiritual epiphany. Reflecting on what she’d read in the Koran, she realised she wanted to convert.

Her decision was met with bemusement by friends and family.

‘People found it so hard to believe that an educated, middle-class white woman would choose to become Muslim,’ she says.

While Camilla’s faith remains strong, she no longer wears the hijab in public. But several of the women I spoke to said strict Islamic dress was something they found empowering and liberating.

'I am so grateful I found my escape route. I am no longer a slave to a broken society and its expectations'

Lynne Ali remembers the night this hit home for her. ‘I went to an old friend’s 21st birthday party in a bar,’ she reveals. ‘I walked in, wearing my hijab and modest clothing, and saw how everyone else had so much flesh on display. They were drunk, slurring their words and dancing provocatively.

‘For the first time, I could see my former life with an outsider’s eyes, and I knew I could never go back to that.

‘I am so grateful I found my escape route. This is the real me — I am happy to pray five times a day and take classes at the mosque. I am no longer a slave to a broken society and its expectations.’

Kristiane Backer, who has written a book on her own spiritual journey, called From MTV To Mecca, believes the new breed of modern, independent Muslims can band together to show the world that Islam is not the faith I grew up in — one that stamps on the rights of women.

She says: ‘I know women born Muslims who became disillusioned an d rebelled against it. When you dig deeper, it’s not the faith they turned against, but the culture.

'Rules like marrying within the same sect or caste and education being less important for girls, as they should get married anyway —– where does it say that in the Koran? It doesn’t.

‘Many young Muslims have abandoned the “fire and brimstone” version they were born into have re-discovered a more spiritual and intellectual approach, that’s free from the cultural dogmas of the older generation. That’s how I intend to spend my life, showing the world the beauty of the true Islam.’

While I don’t agree with their sentiments, I admire and respect the women I interviewed for this piece.

They were all bright and educated, and have thought long and hard before choosing to convert to Islam — and now feel passionately about their adopted religion. Good luck to them. And good luck to Lauren Booth. But it’s that word that sums up the difference between their experience and mine — choice.

Perhaps if I’d felt in control rather than controlled, if I’d felt empowered rather than stifled, I would still be practising the religion I was born into, and would not carry the burden of guilt that I do about rejecting my father’s faith.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From New York Times

Sir Alex, Can We Have the Full Rooney Story Now?

Filed at 6:59 p.m. ET


The Times's soccer blog has the world's game covered from all angles.

PARIS (AP) — Do they sell paper handkerchiefs at the Manchester United store, sufficiently absorbent to soak up even the biggest crocodile tears? Given Alex Ferguson's newfound dramatic talents, we'd be wise to order a box.

For a moment, with his hangdog look, United's normally steely manager almost — almost — had us believing the script that portrays him and his club as the spurned victims in what can now justifiably be called the Wayne Rooney Saga, Part I.

"We're as (sigh, shake of head) ... We're as bemused as anyone can be because we can't quite understand why he'd want to leave," Ferguson said in his 6½-minute command performance Tuesday that can't be called a news conference because he took no questions.

Like all good actors, Ferguson is hoping that his audience will forget about what is going on behind the scenes.

His claim that he can't understand why Rooney would want out of the club that turned him into a megastar can only mean two things: Either Ferguson is being sparing with the truth or he hasn't been asking his striker the right questions. Ferguson is a persuasive man. So it's hard to swallow that he couldn't, with a flash of his famous temper or a quiet chat over a bottle of those vintage wines he's so fond of, get Rooney to open up about his motives.

If Ferguson is to be believed, then Rooney's salary demands aren't why he wants out. Ferguson isn't giving the full financial details. Nor is there any reason why he should. But he says United was prepared to offer Rooney "the best terms possible for any player in the country."

If true, that suggests United would match or better any offer from the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea, clubs whose billionaire owners shoulder some blame for the upward spiral of wages in the Premier League. Although Ferguson is among those who have griped about the inflation and said he isn't prepared to spend with such abandon, he seemed to be saying that United would make an exception for Rooney, because "we realize and recognize the quality of the player."

But if this is solely about money and if United's pockets aren't deep enough, would Ferguson admit that? Likely not. The club insists that Ferguson has cash for players if he needs it. Ferguson has toed that party line and been loyal to the American owners who have saddled United with 750 million pounds ($1.2 billion) of debt. If interest payments are eroding his player budget, then Ferguson isn't prepared — at least not yet — to become the club's first whistle-blower, the one who says that United's means no longer match its always huge on-field ambitions.

Likewise, if Rooney is disappointed that Ferguson still hasn't replaced his former strike partner Cristiano Ronaldo with other stellar players of his quality and feels that United cannot compete for trophies as a result, then we should not expect the manager to tell us that story, either. Doing so would inevitably circle back to the question of United's finances, handing ammunition to agitated fan groups who charge that the owners are weakening the club.

If Rooney's ambitions to win trophies are driving his threat to leave, then perhaps Part II of this saga could be a promise to him from United that it will recruit top players in the next transfer windows. If it cannot do that, Rooney should not solely be blamed for wanting out. Mediocre United performances this season aren't simply because Rooney has been poor but because the whole team no longer looks as strong as it once was.

On Wednesday evening, more than 24 hours after Ferguson gave his version of events, Rooney finally broke his silence. He blamed United's penny-pinching on its squad.

"My agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract. During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world," Rooney said in a statement. "For me its all about winning trophies — as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified."

As to Ferguson's insistence that he and Rooney haven't fallen out — "I've not had an argument with Wayne Rooney at all, at any time," the manager said — well, again, he would say that, wouldn't he? If his famous man-management skills have deserted him, as they also did with David Beckham before he was sold to Real Madrid, then admitting that would invite questions about whether it is time for Ferguson to make way after 24 years in charge at United.

And questions are one thing Ferguson doesn't want.

"I can't answer your question or any question about why he is doing it," Ferguson said of Rooney. "You can speculate, we could have opinions, it won't matter a dickie-bird, simply because the player says he's adamant he wants to leave."

Better, then, to paint "the player" as the villain in this pantomime. By stressing how much he and United have done for Rooney, which included shielding him earlier this season when British tabloids reported that he paid prostitutes for sex, Ferguson suggested that the 24-year-old is biting the hand that feeds him and which transformed him from talented teenager with a volcano's temper into one of world soccer's biggest names.

"We've done everything we can for Wayne Rooney, since the minute he's come to the club. We've always been there as a harbor for him. Any time he's been in trouble, the advice we've given him. I've even been prepared to give him financial advice, many times," said Ferguson, playing the bruised father figure.

Is Ferguson as "shocked," ''dumbfounded" and "very disappointed" as he says? Perhaps. It wasn't all an act. And with good reason — because United would be a poorer side without its marquee player.

If it comes to that.

It may not.

But one thing we can be sure of is that there is more to this saga than Ferguson is letting on.

Why Fergie's fear factor has been wrecked by Rooney walkout by Robbie Savage

Why Fergie's fear factor has been wrecked by Rooney walkout

Sir Alex Ferguson's aura of fear and respect has taken a huge knock with Wayne Rooney's decision to quit Manchester United.

It used to be "my way or the highway" at Old Trafford as David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Jaap Stam were all kicked out when Fergie thought they were getting too big for their boots. But Cristiano Ronaldo broke the mould when he defied Sir Alex and left.

Now you have to ask why United's two best players no longer want to play for the most famous club in the world.

We won't know the full story until Rooney speaks, but I believe that, rightly or wrongly, he simply doesn't want to play for Manchester United any more.


I don't think that greed is a factor. Wayne already has more money than he knows what to do with and has been offered a huge deal to stay at United. Taking it would be the easy option.

And if he was truly greedy, wouldn't he just let his contract run down - or pay it up himself, as he is allowed to under new Fifa rules - and keep the massive transfer fee?

No, I don't think it's greed. Which points back to his relationship with his gaffer and also his general state of mind.

We all know there are things in his personal life which are making him unhappy. And no matter what you do for a living - a plumber, a carpenter, a striker for Manchester United - if you're unhappy at work you look for a fresh start.

Make no mistake, this is a massive blow for United.

Form is temporary but class is permanent and whichever colour shirt Rooney is wearing in January, he will soon be back to his devastating best. United fans might not think so at the moment, but he will be impossible to replace.

And, of course, Manchester City and Chelsea fans must be laughing their heads off. Not just at United's plight but because I think he will end up at one of those two clubs.

At the moment, they have the ambition on and off the field which United seem to lack.

And I think Rooney will look at his own game, realise that his aggression will only bring on bookings and frustration in Spain or Italy, and sign for one of Fergie's biggest rivals.

Manchester United, a magnificent institution, will of course go on. No one player is bigger that that club.

And no one manager, with the exception for me of Brian Clough, is greater than Sir Alex.

But after yesterday's amazing press conference, both could never be the same again.

Alex Ferguson

Picture the scene. It's teatime at the Ferguson household and Sir Alex has just pulled up in the drive after returning from Carrington.

Cathy shouts from the kitchen: "Had a good day, luv?"

Sir Alex growls: "Urrr!"

"Wit wud ye like fur tea? Mince 'n' tatties or neeps? Oh, and how's Wayne? I hope ye were nice tae him today, ye old grump."


Sir Alex: "WHAT!!! I told ye, nae questions about Rooney. Reet, that's it, you're banned frame asking me any more questions. Ye cannae ask me what I'd like fur tea or afterwards ye cannae ask me if I enjoyed it. If you want to hear me reaction, you'll ha tae to watch it later on MUTV."

Cathy: "But Alex, I wuz just asking..."

Sir Alex: "No, that's it. I'm nae answering any questions about Rooney."

The pair proceed to eat their mince 'n' tatties in silence because Sir Alex has unplugged the TV and radio because of their blatant anti-Manchester United propaganda.

Cathy then clears the plates from the table and turns to Sir Alex and asks: "Would ye like a cuppa tea?"

Sir Alex, his face almost purple with anger: "WHAT!! Didn't ye hear me? You're banned frame asking questions."

Sir Alex's mobile rings to the tune of Scotland the Brave and shows Darren's number.

Sir Alex: "Hello son. Are ye all reet?"

Darren: "Aye dad, no bad. I was just wondering if you had any more players you could loan us?"

Sir Alex: "Now Darren, I've told ye before, ye cannae have Rio or Vidic or Berbatov or Van der Sar or Scholesy or Giggsy or Fletcher. I need them."

Darren: "What about Wayne? You don't seem to need him at the minute."

Sir Alex, his face an even deeper shade of purple: "WHAT!!! I said nae questions about Rooney! Does naebody in this hoose listen tae me? Reet, that's it. You're banned frame asking me questions too!"

Darren: "But, but dad...."

Cathy tries to calm Sir Alex down and goes to the DVD cabinet.

"What about a film?" she says. "Ye luv yer old films. Let me's one wi Rooney in it."

Sir Alex: "WHAT!!! Not that plug-eared Shrek lookalike! How dare he demand to leave."

Cathy: "No, Mickey Rooney."

Sir Alex: "Mickey Rooney! He's banned too! I'm no having any Rooneys in this hoose. That's it. I'm going tae bed."

Wayne Rooney has treated red shirt like a rag... Old Trafford always had enough ambition to keep Sir Bobby Charlton happy

Wayne Rooney has treated red shirt like a rag... Old Trafford always had enough ambition to keep Sir Bobby Charlton happy

The red shirt that has been worn with such pride and ferocity of competition by Duncan Edwards, Denis Law, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and David Beckham has been treated like a oily rag by Wayne Rooney.

Imagine the reaction, too, of Sir Bobby Charlton, great player and now the great ambassador of the United cause, upon hearing the swaggeringly arrogant statements from the money-obsessed Rooney machine.

Did this great football club ever fail to satisfy his ambition or his bank account?

How can Rooney play for United and Ferguson again after the arrogance of his statement yesterday evening?

No respect: Rooney has treated famous red shirt like an oily rag

No respect: Rooney has treated famous red shirt like an oily rag

If Ferguson's emotions were troubling him the day before, how would he have reacted yesterday tea time, hours before a European encounter, as Rooney's statement was played out across the airwaves?

A day earlier, in one of the function suites deep inside Old Trafford, disappointment at the ultimate betrayal was etched deep into that familiar face.

Best’s Euro medal sold for £156,000 (less than Wayne wants a week)

It might be small change to Wayne Rooney, but the £156,000 paid at auction on Wednesday for George Best’s 1968 European Cup winner’s medal still exceeded the estimated value for the Manchester United legend’s most prized possession.

The medal, which auctioneers Bonhams
had expected to fetch £90,000-£120,000, was presented after United’s 4-1 win over Benfica at Wembley 42 years ago.

The medal was among 13 awards presented to Best during his career which were auctioned at Bonhams by the executors of his estate.

The proceeds from the sale — £200,000 — will go to Best’s sister Barbara McNally.

I will tell you this, though. Do not write him off. If his rivals are hoping this will be the breaking of the great man and part-time racing owner, they are backing the wrong horse.

Rooney has disgracefully turned his back on his manager and mentor; a football warrior who has transformed the young forward from a teenage prodigy into a global superstar.

For the first time in his seemingly tyrannical epoch at Old Trafford, many will have felt a twinge of sympathy as Ferguson revealed the scale of Rooney's gross self-interest.

But it is not pity Ferguson will be seeking as he deals with the greatest crisis at Manchester United. There are only two choices for any man who looks as dismayed as he did at the moment he was forced to give up on the most gifted player in the land.

He can either walk away or meet the challenge head on. Everything in this man's life has been a preparation for this moment. From his rise from hardship in Glasgow's Gorbals to the summit of club football, Sir Alex has been forged in steel. Give up? He would sooner jump into the Clyde.

If anything, Rooney's treachery will prolong, not terminate, the longest tenure in football management. Time to rebuild a team again, to see off the uprising of the noisy neighbours and restore United to their recent glories.

Sir Alex would be as inhuman as many have tried to depict him if he were not hurting at this moment.

He has supported Rooney through all manner of tribulations, both those on the pitch and in the bedrooms, where the player has jeopardised his marriage and the image of a great club.

Raise a glass: Ferguson will win more trophies - with or without Rooney

Cups that cheer: and there are sure to be more to come for Ferguson, even without Rooney

For this wealthy young man to sell out all that concern and attention for just more surplus cash is almost tragic. For him to claim his transfer demand is down to a lack of ambition is insulting to the great men who have walked the boards at the great Theatre of Dreams.

It leaves the manager, who has been a father figure to him, with the task of rebuilding his team yet again.

Yet the need for that reconstruction, enormously difficult though it is, will render Ferguson unable to leave even if he wanted to. As he sets himself to deal with this prospect, the warrior spirit will surge through him yet again.

As he rationalises the impending loss of Rooney in the January transfer window, he will be wishing he had sold him in the summer.

Clearly, this disturbance has weighed on the team as they have dropped points in draws surrendered from leading positions.

No doubt Ferguson believed it was worth trying to talk Rooney out of a decision which he may well come to regret. Respectfully, he left the door open for Rooney to have a change of heart. That door was slammed shut last night.

There is no turning back now. It will be the future which now commands the manager's attention.

Ferguson has been required to adapt his managerial style down the years. He has gone from hairdryer to intensive carer and financial counsellor.

Although he has despaired at times of the disruptive influence of the agents, his good old-fashioned values of respect and decency have guided him through as he has come to terms with the corporate footballer and all his millions. That transition has kept United at the forefront of the game, and further adaptation to the kind of self-serving mentality now symbolised by Rooney will be required.

Theatre of dreams: Old Trafford has always had enough ambition for legend Si Bobby Charlton

Theatre of dreams: Old Trafford has always had enough ambition for legend Si Bobby Charlton

Fortunately for United, the grandfather of all managers is 68 going on 50.

Ferguson would have preferred to decide himself the moment of Rooney's departure.

Yet he will see the symbolism of George Best's European Cup winners' medal being sold yesterday at auction for £156,000, which is less than the weekly wage which Chelsea or Manchester City will have to offer Rooney now.

The motivation to prove that the lad upon whom he lavished so much attention would have been better off in football terms remaining at Old Trafford will be irresistible.

Every trophy Ferguson and United win will remind Rooney of the day he walked away. Not big enough for Rooney? Maybe not big enough for his head.

But there will be life after Rooney. Ferguson will see to that.