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
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)
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.
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
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.