WHAT IS truly delicious about the Wayne Rooney saga is the way Sir Alex Ferguson has turned hysterical media speculation about the end of his empire into another spectacular triumph that will re-ignite United’s challenge for trophies.

Make no mistake this is one of Fergie’s greatest achievements. And all the so-called experts in the media did not see it coming – especially the Southern-biased critics who desperately want United to fail.

By the end of the season the doubters will be eating their words yet again because this is another reminder that it is much more than money can buy that makes Manchester United the greatest club in the world.

As Fergie proudly declared this afternoon: “It’s a big day for Manchester United and it’s also a message for all our players and all our fans that we are the biggest club in the world. And we should never forget that.”

In a masterful performance that ranks alongside the way he brought Eric Cantona back from the brink, Sir Alex has not only dumbfounded all the critics waiting like vultures to write off the most successful football manager of the modern era. The Manchester United manager has laid the foundations for yet another bid for glory. And he has done it with the style and class that demonstrates why there is plenty of life left yet in this wily Glaswegian.

How Sir Alex dealt with the hysterical media before the story unravelled . . .

In less than 72 hours, talk of the end of an era has been replaced by the powerful motivational challenge to prove that passion, skill and good management can outclass the richess of teams like Chelsea and the even more opulent Manchester City.

In a season when United could easily have stumbled to oblivion if the players had started to believe what the media was telling them, the manager has whipped up the psychological recipe for a new goal that could deliver one of the greatest prizes in the club’s history.

While arch rivals Liverpool, the only club in Britain that comes even close to matching United’s stature, staggers out of the clutches of Hicks and Gillette into a relegation battle, Fergie’s men have their eyes on a record-breaking 19th League title.

Clearly, a powerful Chelsea in pole position are the favourites to deny United, while City are equipped to mount their strongest challenge since the 60s. But this is exactly the type of challenge that stimulates the great players to step up and fight for glory.

Itching to show the world he has what it takes to become a true great, an apologetic Rooney declared: “This is the right club for me to be at and the club is going to continue being successful and winning things.”

Make no mistake, this is the week that Sir Alex gave his troops the ammunition they need to reach for the stars. Rooney has something to prove. And the battle is about to begin.

Get ready for the next chapter – The Empire Strikes Back


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