Tag Archives: intimidation

Sir Alex Ferguson: The master of fear and intimidation

The master of fear and intimidation: Clever, witty, withering, belligerent, mischievous and slightly deluded… this was classic Fergie

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UPDATED:

22:49 GMT, 28 December 2012

Ten minutes before Sir Alex
Ferguson’s weekly press conference was officially due to begin at
Carrington yesterday, and the Manchester United manager was already in
full flow.

As referee Mike Dean and his
assistants found out at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, Ferguson has been
known to make up the rules as he goes along.

For those reporters who got there in
time to witness it, this was classic Ferguson. Clever, witty, withering,
belligerent, mischievous and, yes it has to be said, slightly deluded.

Poor decision: Ferguson was unhappy with the officials after Evans's controversial own-goal

Poor decision: Ferguson was unhappy with the officials after Evans's controversial own-goal

Poor decision: Ferguson was unhappy with the officials after Evans's controversial own-goal

Dismissing Newcastle as ‘a wee club in the North East’ is a putdown that will be remembered long after Ferguson has left Old Trafford; it’s right up there with ‘knocking Liverpool off their f***ing perch’ and ‘when an Italian tells me it’s pasta on the plate, I check under the sauce to make sure’.

The Scot knew exactly what effect that line would have, what headlines it would create, and that’s the clever bit.

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Off you go: Dean sent Wenger to the stands at Old Trafford in 2009

Off you go: Dean sent Wenger to the stands at Old Trafford in 2009

Three days short of his 71st birthday, you had to admire him for rolling
up his sleeves and rolling back the years to put Pardew and Newcastle
in their place.

After walking in shortly before 9.20am, slightly windswept but
completely composed, he was so eager to get started that some
journalists had not even entered the building when he delivered the
killer line that felt like it was prepared in advance.

‘I’m the manager of the biggest club in the world,’ said Ferguson with a
twinkle in his eye and venom in his voice. ‘I’m not like Newcastle, a
wee club in the North East.’

At a stroke he became public enemy No 1 on Tyneside, although his
popularity will have shot up in Sunderland. For pure pantomime you
really couldn’t beat it.

That’s what makes Ferguson’s weekly address such compulsive viewing, and
he knows it. Less of a press conference, more an audience with
footballing royalty.

Empty seats denote those reporters who have been exiled for their sins,
while microphones on handheld metal poles hover around a draughty room
upstairs at United’s academy building to pick up every faltering
question asked from the floor while Ferguson holds court.

His demeanour dictates the mood just as he decides when proceedings begin, regardless of the arrangement.

A cosy cup of tea and a sticky bun with Roberto Martinez at Wigan it
certainly ain’t. And that’s the way Ferguson wants it. Whether it’s
journalists coming to Carrington or match officials walking out at Old
Trafford, it suits him to get people out of their comfort zone.

For all his success in evolving as a manager to cope with the modern
footballer, fear and intimidation remain Ferguson’s most effective
weapons. Dean and his assistants were reminded of that on Wednesday and
did nothing about it.

Ferguson is actually required by the Premier League to conduct an
after-match press conference as well, just like every other manager, but
has refused to do so for years. They do nothing about it. You cannot
therefore blame clubs for feeling that there is one rule for them and
another for United.

A few hundred yards away at their own Carrington training base
yesterday, Manchester City were shaking their heads in disbelief over
the FA’s decision to take action against Roberto Mancini for suggesting
after the defeat at Sunderland that referee Kevin Friend ‘ate too much
at Christmas’.

City have until next Wednesday to give their observations, and will
point out that Mancini was being light-hearted, but a misconduct charge
is sure to follow.

Comparing the two cases, they are baffled that their manager will be
punished and Ferguson will not — although it’s only fair to point out
that the United boss was banned for two games and fined 20,000 three
years ago for saying that Alan Wiley was not physically fit enough to
referee.

This week has been a reminder that no-one stirs up the emotions — his own and everybody else’s — quite like Sir Alex Ferguson.

It’s what makes him who he is. It’s why we’ll miss him so much when he’s gone.

Rio Ferdinand coin: Football must bring in netting after Manchester derby fallout – Martin Keown

It is only luck that has stopped a footballer from losing their sight… now it's time we brought in netting to stop yobs

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UPDATED:

12:05 GMT, 10 December 2012

Sadly, throwing coins is nothing new. We shouldn't be surprised by what happened at the Etihad Stadium.

Just like a small minority of supporters shout racist abuse, some supporters have been throwing missiles at football matches for a long time.

It is highly, highly dangerous. Rio Ferdinand was so lucky his eyes were shut as he could have been blinded by that 2p coin.

Hit: Ferdinand was struck by a coin in the dying moments of the derby while celebrating Robin van Persie's winner

Hit: Ferdinand was struck by a coin in the dying moments of the derby while celebrating Robin van Persie's goal

Confrontation: A City fan makes his way on to the pitch but is held back by Man City stopper Joe Hart

Confrontation: A City fan makes his way on to the pitch but is held back by Man City stopper Joe Hart

It was the thing that scared me most of all on a football pitch. You have no control over what can be thrown at you from the stands, and you cannot defend yourself against what is coming. It is only luck that has stopped a footballer from being blinded.

Earlier this season, working for ESPN alongside Peter Reid, a member of the crowd threw a coin at him which hit him just above the eye. This was at a lower league FA Cup tie so it can happen anywhere.

Ferdinand

Ferdinand

Under siege: The United defender holds his head after being struck by a coin thrown from the crowd

It leaves you feeling so exposed, particularly for anyone who is taking a corner or a throw-in. Earlier in the match, long before Ferdinand was hit, Wayne Rooney was being pelted by coins before he took a corner.

I think it's time we brought in netting to deal with this around the corner flags and certainly behind the goals. When there was fencing up at old grounds you could hear the coins hitting the fencing. It was all part of the intimidation back then but safety has to be paramount. You cannot ever completely stop it, and you cannot have nets at every ground in the lower leagues, but it will surely help as a deterrent.

Target: Rooney holds aloft a coin after being pelted with objects whilst taking a corner for Manchester United during the derby

Target: Rooney holds aloft a coin after being pelted with objects whilst taking a corner for Manchester United

CCTV should be able to capture the guilty fans but you also need crowds to police themselves, just like when dealing with racism.

The last thing we want to stop is spontaneous celebration. We cannot lose that from football. When you score a goal you're not always able to remember where your fans are. In many situations you don't necessarily even mean to celebrate in front of the away fans. Sometimes there's no time to think.

At places like Old Trafford, the away fans only get about 10 seats up in the gods so what are you to do when you score You can't apologise for the goal.

Anzhi Makhachkala – who are the team facing Liverpool

Just who are Anzhi Makhachkala The extraordinary story of the billionaire Russians hoping to topple Liverpool

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UPDATED:

16:03 GMT, 24 October 2012

The Russian Republic of Dagestan, with its mountainous terrain, has been a place of sanctuary for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds over the centuries. And this remains as true today as ever.

But while it was once impoverished nomads and refugees who settled there, it is now more likely to be multi-millionaire young men playing football.

The region’s football side, Anzhi Makhachkala, are in the throes of a new Russian Revolution, one which their oligarch owners hope will deliver them to the summit of not only the national, but the European, game.

Big names: Guus Hiddink and Roberto Carlos have been enticed to Anzhi as manager and technical director respectively

Big names: Guus Hiddink and Roberto Carlos have been enticed to Anzhi as manager and technical director respectively

Destination Dagestan: Samuel Eto'o signed for Anzhi from Inter Milan and reportedly earns 350,000 a week at the Russian club

Destination Dagestan: Samuel Eto'o signed for Anzhi from Inter Milan and reportedly earns 350,000 a week at the Russian club

In the next two weeks, Liverpool will find out first-hand how far they’ve come. This is a Europa League double-header with much more than first meets the eye.

The story of Anzhi is one of eye-watering quantities of money being thrown at a club who three years ago languished in the second division, and of enticing star quality names like Samuel Eto’o, Roberto Carlos and Yuri Zhirkov to come and play in one of the most volatile and hostile regions on earth.

Dagestan is a place where mafia gangs control billion-dollar industries like oil, gold and potash (not to mention caviar from the Caspian Sea), where kidnapping, bombings, violence, threats and intimidation are commonplace, and where everyone owns a gun.

Yet amidst the killings, the lawlessness and a separatist struggle with Moscow, local billionaire Suleyman Kerimov is trying to build an all-conquering team from absolutely nothing.

Money man: Oligarch Suleyman Kerimov is bankrolling Anzhi's bid to conquer Russia and Europe

Money man: Oligarch Suleyman Kerimov is bankrolling Anzhi's bid to conquer Russia and Europe

Liverpool will not see any of Dagestan’s turmoil as the away group stage tie, on November 8, will be played at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow, 1600km to the north, due to UEFA’s enduring ban on European games being played in Makhachkala.

It is one of the many curiosities of the Anzhi story that this will actually be a ‘local’ match for the players and their well-regarded coach Guus Hiddink. They live and train just outside of Moscow, flying first-class to all their domestic home matches at the rickety, Soviet-era Dynamo Stadium.

The squad cover nearly 50,000 miles a season just to fulfil their home fixtures.

It ensures a plush, pampered and most importantly safe lifestyle for players like Eto’o, who at 30 might be accused at playing at a standard beneath him until you realise his wage packet is reportedly 350,000 a week.

Eto’o was recently filmed by a group of French documentary makers inspecting his new Moscow penthouse, complete with private lift, sauna, swimming pool and 360 degree panoramic views of the historic capital.

Pointing the way forward: Eto'o has nine goals in 13 outings so far this season

Pointing the way forward: Eto'o has nine goals in 13 outings so far this season

Roberto Carlos, 39, winner of the World Cup in 2002, finished his playing days with Anzhi and is now their sporting director. His last birthday present was a 1.8m Bugatti Veyron sports car, personally procured by Kerimov’s small change.

Also in the squad is Christopher Samba, signed for 12.3m as Blackburn hurtled towards relegation from the Premier League last season. He earns 100,000 a week but has been the victim of racist abuse in the Russian League.

He told BBC Sport this week: ‘This is a very ambitious club and we have attracted a lot of players. This is not just about money – this is a proper sports project.

‘People don’t come here just to chill and win a pay cheque. We’re putting in a shift on the pitch and at the moment it’s working.’

Solid as a rock: Christopher Samba joined Anzhi from Blackburn for 12.3m last season

Solid as a rock: Christopher Samba joined Anzhi from Blackburn for 12.3m last season

Zhirkov, who spent two years at Chelsea, joined for 13.2m in August 2011, and another former Stamford Bridge face, Lassana Diarra, moved from Real Madrid this year.

They’re guided by Hiddink, another Chelsea connection of course, who was picked ahead of Fabio Capello for the job in February. His pay cheque is worth 8.3m a year.

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Chelsea connection: Yuri Zhirkov has linked up with former boss Hiddink at Anzhi

They’re also getting more and more ambitious in their recruitment. There were sensational reports in the summer of Anzhi trying to woo Robin Van Persie with a 45m transfer fee and 300,000-a-week. Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic is also reportedly on their shopping list for January.

Just 18 months ago, this would have been unthinkable when Kerimov, a 46-year-old billionaire who made his fortune from investments in the region’s lucrative gold, silver and potash mines, took control.

The region’s President, Magomedsalam Magomedov, gave him 100 per cent control of Anzhi in exchange for a truck load of cash not only to spend on the squad and a new 40,000-seater stadium, but the region as a whole.

Plenty to cheer: The Anzhi fans will soon have a 40,000 stadium in which to watch their side

Plenty to cheer: The Anzhi fans will soon have a 40,000 stadium in which to watch their side

Kerimov, who is reportedly worth $8bn, has so far pledged $200m for infrastructure projects which will start to regenerate a turbulent region.

In the nineties, Chechen separatists led armed operations in Dagestan on a number of occasions, taking hostages in hospitals in Dagestani towns and killing scores of people.

In 1999, an Islamic body called on Muslims in Dagestan and neighbouring Chechnya to take up arms against the Russian military. There were two weeks of bloody clashes and Russia has maintained its presence there ever since.

Periodically, insurgents take on the military presence. Ten died in Makhachkala in a 2005 bombing and a policeman was killed and 60 wounded when a bomb went off outside Anzhi’s stadium in September 2010.

Bright future: Hiddink and Carlos are determined to take points from Liverpool to maintain their good start to the season

Bright future: Hiddink and Carlos are determined to take points from Liverpool to maintain their good start to the season

So a history of friction between Moscow and this southern province has been added to by Anzhi’s ascent. When they used the Lokomotiv Stadium for their Europa League qualifier with AZ Alkmaar in August, supporters of the Moscow clubs united to hurl nationalist abuse at the Anzhi players.

Zhirkov was also signalled out for abuse by Russian fans when he played for the national side in the same stadium. The locals believe he’s wasting his time down in Dagestan.

‘We’re unpopular because people can’t understand how a club that won the second division [three years ago] are now title contenders,’ adds Samba.

But for Samba and his teammates, unpopularity is a small price to pay for being part of the Revolution.

Stuart Pearce: England Under 21s playing for their future against Serbia

Pearce warns young Lions in Serbia: You're playing for your England future

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 15 October 2012

Stuart Pearce has warned his players they may never play international football again if they squander a golden opportunity on Tuesday night.

The Under 21s are 90 minutes away qualifying for a record fourth consecutive European Championships but head coach Pearce is well aware their position remains precarious against Serbia, given England only won the first leg 1-0.

Pearce is confident his players can handle the pressure and intimidation of a 10,000-capacity crowd here in Krusevac and has great belief that a journey which started against Azerbaijan in Watford last September will continue all the way to Israel next summer.

Slender advantage: England U21s lead Serbia by one goal after the first leg

Slender advantage: England U21s lead Serbia by one goal after the first leg

However, he has coldly pointed out that a failure to protect the lead they established in Norwich via a penalty from West Brom’s Craig Dawson means, for certain players, the chance to pull on an England shirt again will be gone for good.

‘This is the most difficult tournament to try and qualify for,’ said Pearce. ‘We have won eight of our nine games and it means absolutely nothing. If we have a bad night, then some of my players might not play international football again.'

ENGLAND (4-2-3-1):

Butland: Smith, Dawson, Caulker, Rose: Henderson, Lowe: Sterling, Zaha, Ince: Sordell.

Referee: Huseyin Gocek (Turkey)

Kick-off: 5pm

Radio: 5Live updates

That is the nature of it for those who go out of the age group and do not progress into the seniors. That is something the players have got to handle. Quite a few of our players are used to playing under high pressure. Our last 14 months are tied up in 90 minutes and they have to handle that.’

Some will inevitably wonder what failure might mean for Pearce, too, given his current contract expires next summer and there have been no discussions about renewing his terms. He, though, is relaxed about the situation and does not believe there will be any hiccups.

‘You have to trust your players and your staff,’ he said. ‘We have created something over the last six years, a professional environment where everyone feels the result, from the kit man right the way through. That transcends on to the pitch. The players get on board and run with that.

Tantalising: Stuart Pearce is one game away from leading his team to Israel

Tantalising: Stuart Pearce is one game away from leading his team to Israel

‘When we enter a tournament, we show the players a route all the way to the final. You have to knock off markers along the way. We have got the opportunity here to get 50 per cent along the way to winning the tournament. What do I expect I expect us to win the game.’

Pearce is expected to start with the team that finished the first leg at Carrow Road but he says there was never a chance of Liverpool’s Jonjo Shelvey, who has stayed with the seniors for the World Cup qualifier in Poland, replacing the injured Jack Rodwell.

‘Myself and Roy (Hodgson) talked about Jonjo, who was suspended for the first game,’ he said. ‘There were other players who could have gone up into the seniors. But with Jonjo not available to us for the first leg, it was an ideal opportunity. Roy has given the Under 21s due diligence.’

Lance Armstrong could face perjury charges

Armstrong may face perjury charges after denying drug use in court

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UPDATED:

10:36 GMT, 12 October 2012

Lance Armstrong could be subject to perjury charges after testifying in court that he had never taken banned performance-enhancing drugs, according to the US anti-doping agency.

The cyclist, named by USADA as being a central figure in a major doping scheme by the US Postal team, had told a court in Dallas under oath in 2005 he had never taken banned drugs.

Armstrong also told the court he had never violated the rules of the Tour de France, nor had the team doctor Michele Ferrari administered banned drugs to him.

Troubled times: Lance Armstrong (right) could face perjury charges

Troubled times: Lance Armstrong (right) could face perjury charges

The USADA report, however, claims Armstrong's statements in court were false.

The report states: 'As demonstrated by the testimony of numerous witnesses in this case, each of the above statements made under oath and subject to the penalties of perjury were materially false and misleading when made.'

Meanwhile, the report highlights how the US Postal team were able to avoid detection of use of the banned blood-boosting agent EPO by injecting cyclists with saline just before tests to lower their blood cell count.

The report says: 'The USPS team made regular use of saline infusions, a prohibited method, which permits a rider to quickly reduce his hematocrit level in order to beat the UCI's health check 50% hematocrit threshold and to fool the biological passport program.

Tricks: Armstrong is said to have got around drug tests sneakily

Tricks: Armstrong is said to have got around drug tests sneakily

'One of the bolder examples of the use
of saline to fool the testers was at the 1998 World Championships when
Armstrong's doctor literally smuggled past a UCI official a litre of
saline concealed under his rain coat and administered it to Armstrong to
lower his hematocrit right before a blood check.'

The USADA report also states that Armstrong was guilty of 'witness intimidation' when people testified against him or Ferrari.

At the 2004 Tour de France, the report says Armstrong told cyclist Filippo Simeoni, 'You made a mistake when you testified against Ferrari… I can destroy you.' and made a gesture of zipping his lips.

'Mr Armstrong's actions in connection with his threatening statement, constitute acts of attempted witness intimidation,' says the USADA report.

Five of Lance Armstrong's former team-mates have accepted six-month doping bans from USADA after their evidence helped strip Armstrong of his seven career Tour de France titles.

Going down: Several of Armstrong's team-mates have accepted doping bans

Going down: Several of Armstrong's team-mates have accepted doping bans

The USADA said the bans imposed on George Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie were reduced because of 'substantial assistance' supplied by the riders in relation to their investigation into Armstrong.

A sixth former Armstrong team-mate, Canadian Michael Barry, also accepted the sanction, although Barry announced his retirement from the sport last month.

Ordinarily, the riders would have faced bans of at least two years for admitting the offences.

Lance Armstrong says USADA investigation is a "vendetta" against him on Twitter

Angry Armstrong says USADA investigation is a 'vendetta' against him in series of tweets

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UPDATED:

19:43 GMT, 5 July 2012

Lance Armstrong has responded angrily to reports – criticised by the United States Anti-doping Agency – that his former team-mates have been handed six month suspensions in exchange for giving evidence in a doping case allegedly implicating the seven-time Tour de France champion.

Suggestions bans suspended until the end of the season have been issued to team-mates of Armstrong for giving evidence in the case have been dismissed by those allegedly involved and USADA, who last week confirmed they are to file formal doping charges against the Texan.

Armstrong repeatedly and strenuously denies any wrongdoing and described the investigation as a 'vendetta'.

Armstrong wrote on Twitter: 'So let me get this straight…come in and tell @usantidoping exactly what they wanted to hear…

Angry: Armstrong (right) has complained of a 'vendetta' against him

Angry: Armstrong (right) has complained of a 'vendetta' against him

'…in exchange for immunity, anonymity, and the opportunity to continue to race the biggest event in cycling..

'This isn't about @usantidoping wanting to clean up cycling – rather it's just plain ol' selective prosecution that reeks of vendetta.'

USADA chief executive Travis T Tygart criticised the speculation surrounding the case and insisted nothing has been determined and that no individual cases have been addressed.

In a statement, Tygart said: 'USADA's investigation into doping in the sport of cycling continues.

'No individual cases have been finalised, and any attempt to guess at whom potential witnesses might be only leads to inaccurate information being reported and subjects those named to unnecessary scrutiny, threats and intimidation.

'It is important to remember that the truth would often be suppressed without witnesses who at great cost to themselves are willing to tell the truth under oath about what they saw and experienced, and any attempt to circumvent the proper procedures in order to bully or silence people who may or may not be witnesses cannot be tolerated.'

Armstrong and USADA's responses came after the story broke in Europe before the start of the fifth stage of the Tour in Rouen.

Statement: Jonathan Vaughters faces the media

Statement: Jonathan Vaughters faces the media

Two of his former team-mates Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie ride for Garmin-Sharp, whose team boss Jonathan Vaughters, also a former team-mate of Armstrong's, gave short shrift to the claims.

Vaughters, chief executive of Slipstream Sports, the parent company of the Garmin-Sharp team, wrote on Twitter: 'Regarding the Dutch media report: No 6mos (sic) suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date.'

A Slipstream Sports statement added: 'Media reports of suspensions are untrue.

'As we have always said, we expect that anyone in our organisation who is contacted by any anti-doping or government authority will be open and honest with that authority, but, at this moment, we – our organisation, our riders and our staff – are focused on the Tour de France.'

George Hincapie is riding in a record 17th consecutive Tour, having been a team-mate of Armstrong in each of his seven triumphs, and is seeking to help BMC Racing team-mate Cadel Evans successfully defend the yellow jersey.

Former team-mate: George Hincapie in action on the fifth stage

Former team-mate: George Hincapie in action on the fifth stage

BMC Racing team president Jim Ochowicz said: 'We've not received any notification from any authority about this issue at all.'

Hincapie added: 'I'm just disappointed with this thing being brought up once again. BMC's got nothing to do with this. Cadel's focus is to try to win the Tour and I'm here to help him do that.

'I'll continue to do that and try not to let anything get in my mind besides that.'

Asked whether he has spoken to Armstrong recently, Hincapie added: 'I haven't in a while. I feel bad that he's going through all this. Lance has done so many things for the sport.'

Ravel Morrison to live alone after transfer to West Ham

Morrison to live alone after transfer to West Ham

Capital gains: Ravel Morrison

Capital gains: Ravel Morrison

Sir Alex ferguson may think Ravel
Morrison will be 'better out of Manchester' but the former United
youngster will start life at West Ham by staying in a four-star east
London hotel.

The Championship side have no plans
to place the 18-year-old, whose career has been blighted by off-field
problems, with a host family to keep him out of trouble.

Two days after winning the 2011 FA
Youth Cup, Morrison was fined 600 by a court for throwing his
girlfriend's mobile phone out of a window during an argument.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of witness intimidation last year and has a police caution for assaulting his mother.

The midfielder is rated as one of the
top players to have come through United's academy, but made just three
first-team appearances and left after Ferguson said his wage demands
were 'unrealistic'.

But his three-and-a-half-year contract at West Ham is based heavily how much he plays so he will suffer financially if he does not feature regularly.

West Ham paid an initial 650,000 but the fee could rise to 2.5million depending on performances.

Sportsmail understands United did not insert a buy-back clause into the deadline-day deal.

Ravel Morrison: Manchester United turn down 1m bid from Newcastle

Newcastle fail in 1m bid for United teenage midfielder Morrison

Newcastle have been unsuccessful in their attempts to sign Manchester United's Ravel Morrison for 1million.

The 18-year-old midfielder, who has made two Carling Cup appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson's side this season, will be out of contract in the summer but United are reluctantly ready to sell him, despite a series of disciplinary matters.

Ravel Morrison

Highly-regarded: but Ravel Morrison's United career has been dogged by personal problems

Morrison
signed professional
forms two years ago
but is yet to make his
league debut and has
grown frustrated at
his lack of first-team
action, resulting in
repeated fall-outs
with the management.

But Ferguson has confirmed the club have declined the recent bid from the North East club.

'We've rejected an offer from Newcastle,' he said.

Morrison has had a chequered history and appeared in court last year and pleaded guilty to two charges of witness intimidation.

However, United have worked tirelessly to keep the Manchester-born youngster on the right tracks, recognising the ability that has led to a widespread claim Morrison is the best young player to emerge from United's youth ranks since Paul Scholes.

Demands: Sir Alex Ferguson says Morrison's contract wishes are unrealistic

Demands: Sir Alex Ferguson says Morrison's contract wishes are unrealistic

Yet Scholes' decision to come out of retirement has led Morrison to question his own future, although Ferguson claims the teenager has already rejected the contract United have offered.

'His agent has been working hard to get him another club,' said Ferguson.

'We have offered him terms, which he has refused.

'His demands are unrealistic as far as we are concerned.'