Date: 31st December 2010 at 1:20pm
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The loan system is, for young Manchester United players, an invaluable step on the road to challenging for a squad place.

This season, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf are all making an impact elsewhere in the Premier League, while David Beckham, speaking after his recent (if perhaps a touch premature) BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Lifetime Achievement Award, gave a shout out to Preston North End, for whom he made 5 appearances in 1995.

Which is why it was intensely dispiriting to learn that Richie de Laet and Joshua King have been recalled from Preston, in direct response to the sacking of Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex. It appears that United are also looking into the legal possibilities of terminating Matty James’ season-long loan.

It is a decision devoid of any kind of footballing justification. De Laet and King were due to return after Preston’s New Year schedule; what urgent business requires them back at Carrington a week early? And James has signed for a season; has the plan for his development changed? The answers, patently, are “none” and “no”. This is straightforward patronage, furious father on behalf of sacked son, and it is an act of exceptional pettiness.

The suspicion that Sir Alex views Manchester United as his personal fiefdom is ever-present and, on the whole, to United’s benefit; after all, the interests of a football club and the interests of the manager largely coincide. But where they don’t, there is a pattern of self-interest trumping club concerns: a season written off while Sir Alex pursued half a horse through the courts; the failure to oppose the Glazer takeover; the long-running, ludicrous boycott of the BBC. Now we have the prioritisation of family honour over the development of three Manchester United footballers, all of whom are reportedly keen to stay at Deepdale.

The role of the manager is serve the club, and to serve the interests of the club, not to misappropriate or misdirect the resources of the club for his own ends. The termination of the loans is a shabby act that shames the very institution Sir Alex was appointed, all those years and titles ago, to represent. There can be no doubting his ability as a manager, but by utilising the club as an instrument of personal vengeance he has shown us, once again, where his true loyalties lie.

For all the silverware, and for all the glory, Sir Alex does not walk the Busby way.


7 responses to “Don’t Ever Take Sides Against The Family”

  1. exon says:

    I’m afraid to say that you’re right. I guess every man on this earth casts a shadow.

  2. Yashi says:

    I am guessing the only reason our youngsters went there was because Darren Ferguson was manager.

    But obviously, that’s no reason to move the players out of there once his son was no longer at the club. I think all of our loanees would have stayed there for the season, but it’s a big blow for them to have to now resume their development at a new club.

    Anyway, hope they find some new clubs. I was hoping the likes of De Laet might join a PL club…

  3. catcool07 says:

    At the end of the day , they wouldnt have been there had it not been for darren ferguson so why should they be there if hes not.The fact is ….he was sacked and was obviously not to happy about the way it was conducted…so why would SAF want his players at a club like that!!

    De Laet and King only had one or two games left on their loan contract anyway but i think they should let matty james stay.

  4. jonte says:

    Brilliant! The pic of fergie is so good i have to steal it!!!

  5. Adam says:

    Its obvious that this is a reaction from Fergie to the way his son has been treated. The guy has done incredible things for Man Utd, but we shouldn’t expect Man Utd to come first all the time. Yes we trust him to manage our club, but his family comes first. If he is angry then he will react, its human nature.

    Also Pullis recalled his players back to Stoke early. Why? He isn’t going to take great offence to Darren getting sacked. Maybe there was more behind the scenes which made Preston a bad environment for players.

    De Laet was only at Preston because of Darren. I mean he can be at a better team than them anyway.

  6. Chris says:

    I think those are very harsh comments about our most successful manager ever.

    I disagree with what SAF does from time to time, I’m not one of those who will blindly defend him come what may. But he is who he is, and his achievements are in large part down to the kind of person he is.

    Criticise him over this issue if you want but please don’t question his loyalty or commitment to Manchester United. That’s ridiculous.

  7. @Chris

    As you can see from the piece, I think his loyalty to United can be questioned, on those (admittedly rare) instances where it conflicts with his loyalty to himself or his family. I’ve given some examples – Rock of Gibraltar for one – but if you think they don’t demonstrate this, I’d be interested to hear why.