Beck­ham: I was to blame for Fergie rift

The Herald - Herald Sport - - EMIRATES FA CUP -

DAVID BECK­HAM ac­cepts he made mis­takes in his time at Manch­ester United that led to a break­down in re­la­tions with Sir Alex Fer­gu­son.

Beck­ham pro­gressed from the youth ranks to be­come one of the big­gest stars at Old Traf­ford, but was sold by Fer­gu­son to Real Madrid in 2003.

Beck­ham ac­cepts that his celebrity sta­tus and mar­riage to Spice Girl Vic­to­ria gave Fer­gu­son cause to doubt his pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

Speak­ing about his life and ca­reer on BBC Ra­dio Four’s Desert Is­land Discs, he said: “At 41, I’d like to think that I’m more grown-up and a lit­tle wiser than when I was 21. There were cer­tain de­ci­sions I made back then that were wrong and I can see why the man­ager got so frus­trated by cer­tain things.

“All the man­ager ever wanted was the best for the team, the best for the club and the best for the in­di­vid­ual.”

Beck­ham and Fer­gu­son’s most pub­lic fall­ing-out came in 2003 when Fer­gu­son kicked a boot that left him with a cut above the eye. Beck­ham de­scribed it as a “freak ac­ci­dent”.

But it was Fer­gu­son who pro­vided Beck­ham with much-needed re­as­sur­ance fol­low­ing his send­ing-off dur­ing Eng­land’s World Cup quar­ter­fi­nal loss to Ar­gentina in 1998.

“The first per­son to call me af­ter that game was Sir Alex Fer­gu­son,” said the former Eng­land cap­tain, whose Eng­land caps were his lux­ury item. “He said: ‘Son, get back to Manch­ester, you’ll be fine’. And that gave me strength to get through prob­a­bly the tough­est time I’ve been through.” BASTIAN Sch­we­in­steiger en­joyed a mem­o­rable Manch­ester United re­turn, wrap­ping up a com­pre­hen­sive FA Cup fourth-round win against Wi­gan on his first start for more than a year.

Few ex­pected to see the 32-year-old in the club’s colours again af­ter be­ing frozen out by Jose Mour­inho, fall­ing so far down the peck­ing or­der that the club even wrote him off as an as­set in their ac­counts.

How­ever, Sch­we­in­steiger has sur­pris­ingly re­turned from the cold and capped his first United start since Jan­uary 9, 2016, by hook­ing home the FA Cup hold­ers’ fi­nal goal of a 4-0 win against Wi­gan.

Eye­brows were raised at the former Ger­many capt ain’s in­clu­sion, com­pounded by the rust vis­i­ble in the open­ing stages against War­ren Joyce’s well-drilled side.

How­ever, Sch­we­in­steiger’s fine cross brought with it Marouane Fel­laini’s open­ing goal just be­fore half-time, from which a much-changed United re­turned brightly.

An­thony Mar­tial, given a chance to shine at Old Traf­ford, set-up Chris Smalling and Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan goals, be­fore Sch­we­in­steiger brought the big­gest cheer of the af­ter­noon by turn­ing home from close range.

Mour­inho con­firmed that Sch­we­in­steiger will be stay­ing at Manch­ester United for the re­main­der of the sea­son but Ash­ley Young could leave be­fore the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow shuts to­mor­row.

The United man­ager, how­ever, would not get drawn on spec­u­la­tion about Wayne Rooney’s fu­ture as he spoke to me­dia af­ter his side’s com­fort­able FA Cup fourth-round win over Wi­gan at Old Traf­ford.

Rooney, who be­came United’s record goalscorer ear­lier this month, was the sub­ject of fresh re­ports link­ing him with a move to China yes­ter­day morn­ing.

But it was the fu­ture of Sch­we­in­steiger, who scored in the 4-0 de­feat of Cham­pi­onship Wi­gan on his first start for more than a year, which was made the clear­est.

Mour­inho said of the Ger­man: “Yes, he is stay­ing. He is go­ing to [be in­cluded on] the Europa League list be­cause we opened spa­ces with [Mem­phis] De­pay and [Mor­gan] Sch­nei­der­lin [leav­ing] and we don’t have many play­ers, and we don’t have many op­tions in mid­field.

“Ninety min­utes [against Wi­gan] was prob­a­bly too hard for him, from min­utes 65-70 it was hard for him but now I think he is happy.

“He was a good pro­fes­sional when he was not play­ing, and af­ter hav­ing some min­utes he will be the same. With so many com­pe­ti­tions and games he will be an op­tion.”

Mour­inho de­flected a ques­tion about Wayne Rooney in his post-match press con­fer­ence by speak­ing about former Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­al­ist Young.

He said: “The only player that I am aware of a pos­si­bil­ity to leave, and I am wait­ing for Jan­uary 31 to know what is go­ing on, is Ash­ley Young, a player I would love to keep.

“I am not happy if he leaves, but he is the only player that I am in­formed has a pos­si­bil­ity of leav­ing. That is why he didn’t play and I gave chances to other peo­ple, be­cause I don’t know if he is go­ing to stay.

“If I could choose, def­i­nitely yes he would stay with us.”

That an­swer may not quell spec­u­la­tion con­cern­ing Rooney, par­tic­u­larly with the Chi­nese trans­fer dead­line not un­til the end of Fe­bru­ary and not Tues­day, as is the case do­mes­ti­cally.

I’M BACK: Bastian Sch­we­in­steiger (right) cel­e­brates his goal with Wayne Rooney.

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