The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - T R.AGE - By IAN YEE By NIKI cHEONG

If Alex fer­gu­son’s deal­ings with star play­ers who dared step out of line at Manch­ester United is any­thing to go by, then Wayne Rooney’s ticket to Spain should al­ready have been booked.

eng­land’s star for­ward broke ranks in ex­tra­or­di­nary fashion last week, pub­licly con­tra­dict­ing fer­gu­son’s state­ments about him hav­ing an an­kle in­jury, and then re­fus­ing to sign a new con­tract.

Add to that the lack of ef­fort he’s dis­played on the pitch ever since the World Cup, his pub­lic drink­ing, smok­ing and uri­nat­ing es­capades, and his sob­bing three­some with two pros­ti­tutes while his wife Coleen was five months preg­nant, and one would think: fer­gu­son has sold star play­ers for much, much less. for ex­am­ple:

Paul Ince

Ince was one of the best all-round mid­field­ers in the world, and he formed a for­mi­da­ble part­ner­ship with Roy Keane.

But he was also a volatile char­ac­ter, a big player with a big ego and that made for a tense re­la­tion­ship with his man­ager.

fi­nally, in 1995, fer­gu­son de­cided enough was enough and sold him to In­ter Mi­lan in spite of an up­roar from United fans. They got even an­grier when fer­gu­son re­placed him with 20-year-old Nicky Butt.

An­drei Kanchel­skis

Ince’s team­mate Kanchel­skis was also sold af­ter fall­ing out with fer­gu­son, and it didn’t mat­ter one bit that he was the side’s top scorer dur­ing his fi­nal sea­son, and one of the Premier league’s best for­eign im­ports at the time.

Dwight Yorke

He was ir­re­sistible in his first sea­son at United, top­ping the league’s goal-scor­ing charts and form­ing one of the best strike part­ner­ships in Premier league his­tory with Andy Cole.

But then he got in­volved in a re­la­tion­ship with Jor­dan, aka Katie Price, the top­less model and at­ten­tion whore ev­ery­body in Bri­tain loves to hate; and his pen­chant for Jor­dan’s celebrity life­style led to a fall­ing-out with fer­gu­son.

In less than three sea­sons af­ter be­ing IF YOU thought that so­cial me­dia is only a pass­ing phase, the an­nounce­ment of sev­eral col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween In­ter­net big­wigs might just change your mind.

At the cen­tre of most of these col­lab­o­ra­tions is the mas­ter of the so­cial me­dia (with these col­lab­o­ra­tions, soon to be of the whole In­ter­net) uni­verse, Face­book.

Just a few days ago, Face­book and Mi­crosoft came to­gether to an­nounce a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the so­cial me­dia net­work and the lat­ter’s search en­gine, Bing. This would al­low searches on the In­ter­net to be more “so­cial”, tap­ping on the huge user data­base that Face­book al­ready had.

There are two main el­e­ments to this col­lab­o­ra­tion. Firstly, your searches will be as­so­ci­ate to your friends’ “Like” choices based on Face­book’s so­cial graph.

So if you were to do a Bing search on a res­tau­rant, for ex­am­ple, your search re­sults would show you if any of your friends “Like” the place. This is of course ideal if you can’t, let’s say, de­cide where to take your date and can use those “Like” notices as rec­om­men­da­tions.

The other el­e­ment is when you are search­ing for an in­di­vid­ual. Say you are search­ing for a friend hailed one of the best strik-strik­ers in the world, Yorke’s United ca­reer was over.

David Beck­ham

The player who re­placed Kanchel­skis would also make a sen­sa­tional de­par­ture. life-long United fan David Beck­ham was more than a star at United, he was a hero, an icon that sym­bol­ised the club’s spirit.

But fer­gu­son grew tired of the con­stant dis­trac­tions brought on by Beck­ham’s celebrity sta­tus, and their re­la­tion­ship be­gan to sour.

even though Beck­ham was foot­ball’s most valu­able com­mod­ity at the time, and prob­a­bly still is, fer­gu­son gave him the boot (pun in­tended) in 2003.

Though Beck­ham had ut­tered that dreaded line, “never say never” (which iron­i­cally re­quires you to say “never” twice), few United fans be­lieved he would ac­tu­ally leave. But with his con­tract also com­ing dan­ger- named John Terry; in­stead of your search just show­ing the Chelsea foot­ball player, it will also search into pub­lic pro­files on Face­book and pri­ori­tise a “friend” or mu­tual friend.

This col­lab­o­ra­tion is great for Bing, which is strug­gling to com­pete with the more pop­u­lar Google.

Google, too, re­cently an­nounced a col­lab­o­ra­tion with so­cial net­work Twit­ter. Google News can now be con­nected to your Twit­ter ac­count, and will dis­play a “Friends” box on its page show­ing you what kinds of news your friends are shar­ing.

This fea­ture hasn’t been rolled out glob­ally yet and re­ports are stat­ing that it cur­rently only dis­play links which di­rect back to Google News. How­ever, this is a big step for Google, es­pe­cially since the rate of peo­ple shar­ing news on so­cial me­dia is fast on the rise.

In fact, CNN re­cently re­leased re­search re­sults which shows that an av­er­age user shares 13 sto­ries each week. In turn, this user re­ceives 26 sto­ries via so­cial me­dia or e-mail.

An­other ma­jor col­lab­o­ra­tion, which has been the sub­ject of a lot of spec­u­la­tion, is be­tween Face­book and Skype. The re­cently re­leased Skype 5.0 put the spec­u­la­tion to rest.

One of the biggest im­prove­ments to Skype with this re­lease is the group video chat (pre­vi­ously, you could do group con­fer­ence calls but not videos). The one that has ev­ery­one talk­ing, how­ever, is the Face­book in­te­gra­tion.

This in­te­gra­tion will al­low you to view the up­dates of all your Face­book friends who are also con­nected to you on Skype. There isn’t the abil­ity at the moment to use Face­book chat within Skype, but it is re­ally just a mat­ter of time be­fore ev­ery­thing is con­nected.

Nat­u­rally, this is a great ef­fort for Skype to keep up with the new so­cial en­vi­ron­ment; months ago, Google in­cor­po­rated video ca­pa­bil­i­ties and com­puter-to-phone calls into its Gmail chat fea­ture. I’m also won­der­ing when Face­book will take ad­van­tage of their col­lab­o­ra­tion with Skype and in­clude calls and video con­fer­enc­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties within its chat fea­ture.

And to think these are only the col­lab­o­ra­tions we’ve heard about over the past cou­ple of weeks. Many more have hap­pened, and are no doubt hap­pen­ing (such as re­ports of Ap­ple CEO Steve Jobs and Face­book co-founder Mark Zucker­berg’s din­ner date spark­ing ru­mours about a Face­book/Ping, iTune’s new so­cial mu­sic net­work, part­ner­ship).

If these are not in­di­ca­tion of how so­cial the In­ter­net will be in the fu­ture, I don’t know what is. And while it may ap­pear scary that Face­book seem to be tak­ing over the world, I’m quite ex­cited to see how far the com­pe­ti­tion will push each other, how many more col­lab­o­ra­tions will emerge and what we users will ben­e­fit from it in the long run.

Manch­ester United’s David Beck­ham (right) and Roy Keane in hap­pier times in 2002.

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