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Time for Alex to step away


File photo dated 13/05/2013 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

File photo dated 13/05/2013 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire


THE photograph told a tale. Alex Ferguson, flanked by David Moyes and Ryan Giggs, leaving a house after their 'summit meeting'. Manchester United fans should be deeply concerned by that image.

With many things in football, it is wise to take a step back and not rush to judgment. Without the fine detail, it is often impossible to judge a situation and time sometimes helps fill in the gaps.

But that picture was a very fine detail indeed and watching events unfold since Ferguson dropped his bombshell, I don't need any time to know that he is not making a clean break with Old Trafford.

That has potentially devastating consequences for Moyes and for Manchester United. If Ferguson's presence remains a significant feature around the club, it can only be bad for the new manager.

I know that there is an odd crossover at work and that Ferguson was forced to bring forward his announcement because of a leak.

Presumably, he would have gone to the last game and made his announcement then, before Manchester United confirmed Moyes as the new manager.

As things stand, he is still the manager in name, but not in substance, yet he still seems to be making big decisions that will impact on the club for years to come.

I think he was right to be fully involved in the selection of a successor, but at that point, he should have stepped back and left the way clear for Moyes.

The speculation about Ferguson's meeting with Moyes and Giggs was that it centred on Wayne Rooney.

The evidence would suggest that Ferguson's relationship has broken down completely with Rooney and that the player has no problem with Manchester United the club.

If that is the case, Moyes will want to keep him and try to bring him back to his best. Any further involvement from Ferguson must be counter-productive.

It could well be that Ferguson's attitude to Rooney is the real problem in this situation and things would improve once he's out of the way.

I know from my own experience how deflating and confidence-sapping it can be when a manager just doesn't fancy you any more. For me, the moment came back in 1962 when I had an awful game in an FA Cup semi-final which we lost 3-1 to Spurs.

I knew I'd played badly and I remember seeing that reflected in Matt Busby's eyes. I believe that this was the moment he made up his mind about me.

There is nothing worse for a footballer than to play under a manager who is not a believer and after a season of it, I had to get out of there.

I'm not saying Rooney hasn't brought much of his current problems on himself, but there are always reasons for human behaviour and as I said before, without the fine detail, it is difficult to make a call.

But I do think that Ferguson lost confidence in Rooney completely when he levered a bigger salary out of a threat to move to Manchester City.

Ferguson must have been incandescent when he read Rooney's claim that he wanted out because Manchester United didn't match his ambitions any more.

But he still saw value in him and used him, even if he was quietly seething and waiting for his moment to let Rooney know who the boss is.

The only problem is that he is not the boss any more and will never be again. If he doesn't absorb that fact very quickly, I would fear for Moyes.