Rooney not Ferguson’s problem

Nicola Cortese will remain in his role as Southampton’s

executive chairman after his plans for the future were signed off

by the club’s owners.

Cortese was understood to be considering his position at St

Mary’s over differences with the trust that runs the club, and

manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday that he would follow him

if he decided to leave.

But the Italian met with owner Katharina Liebherr on Friday and

plans for the club’s continued development in the Premier League

were agreed, prompting a statement on the club’s official

website.

Cortese said: “We are now in a position to move forward with our

ambitious plans for the club and I would like to thank Katharina

for the very helpful manner in which she approached our talks about

long term strategy. I am pleased that this matter is now

resolved.

“We can now focus 100 per cent on our preparations for next

season.

“We have tremendous momentum now at the club and we are looking

forward with great confidence to an exciting and successful

campaign next season.

“The last few days have shown me the unity that we now have

across the club in the players, the manager, the staff and the

chairmanship which normally takes years to achieve.

“I have always believed that to create this unity would make us

a very strong club and it is a unity of which I am unashamedly

proud.”

The 19-year-old former Celtic trainee has cut an impressive,

composed figure since making a shock debut in last weekend’s

Edinburgh derby win over Hearts.

With James McPake and Tim Clancy facing a race to recover from

injury, Forster will be in contention to start the Hampden

showpiece against the Hoops next Sunday.

Aside from the obvious desire to become a club legend by helping

to end a 111-year hoodoo, the Gorgie-born centre-back would draw

some added satisfaction from defeating the Glasgow giants.

“At Celtic, I had a discussion with the head of youth and he

said at that time it was unlikely that I’d get a pro contract. That

was three years ago,” said the promising defender.

“Whenever you’re released by a club and play them again, there’s

always an edge. That will always be there.

“Hopefully I will give the manager here a headache for the final

by continuing to perform well on the pitch and in training.

“There’s an extra incentive for me every time I play against

Celtic now.”

Forster has bounced back impressively from his Parkhead

disappointment in recent years, and describes joining Hibs as the

“best thing I’ve ever done”.

He continued: “It is hard to sum up what the last couple of

weeks have been like. It’s happened so fast, like a whirlwind.

“If you’d asked me a couple of months ago if I’d be in this

position, I’d have said ‘no way’. To make my debut at Tynecastle in

the derby was unbelievable.

“It justifies my decision to come here after leaving Celtic, 100

per cent. It wasn’t going to work out for me there and joining Hibs

is the best thing I’ve ever done.

“Hibs are renowned for bringing youth players through and that’s

been proved.

“It would be a dream come true for me to play against Celtic’s

first team and win. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about

running out against them at Hampden in a Scottish Cup final.”

Mancini was relieved of his duties a year to the day since he

guided City to last season’s Premier League title.

The club’s owners spoke of a desire for a more “holistic

approach” but Ferguson believes it was the wrong decision.

“It is quite amazing,” said the Manchester United manager, who

retires after Sunday’s game at West Brom.

“He has won the FA Cup, been in the final, second in the league

and won the league and it’s not good enough?

“I was surprised, but actually no, you can’t say you are

surprised not with some owners today. You can’t be surprised, but I

still don’t think it was right.

“I was with the chief executive of Liverpool at our reserve game

the other night and he told me that Brendan Rodgers, who has not

been in the job a year, is the 30th longest-serving manager in the

country. That’s incredible.”

The Arsenal midfielder’s tribute was in start contrast to former

England winger Chris Waddle’s dismissal of Beckham as not even

being in the top 1,000 Premier League players.

But Wilshere says Beckham, who will retire at the end of the

season and plays his last home game for Paris Saint-Germain on

Saturday, as the perfect role model for any young midfielder.

Wilshere – who trained alongside Beckham before he joined PSG –

admits he has always looked up to him.

“For me, he is the biggest English footballer there has ever

been – both on and off the pitch,” he told Arsenal Player.

“Sometimes people forget what he did on the pitch, he was a

great player and he showed that for many years. For any young

English midfielder, and for me growing up, he was the perfect role

model.

“You can just watch him and learn – not just the way he plays

but from his attitude as well, his professionalism and his love for

the game. That rubs off on everyone.”

Waddle struck a controversial note among the tributes to Beckham

however.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “You can go down a list of footballers

since the Premier League and I don’t think David Beckham would

probably be in the first 1,000.

“I would say he has been a good player, I wouldn’t put him down

as a great.”

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes Beckham’s

“unbelievable stamina” had given him such longevity but said it was

the right time to retire.

Ferguson said: “He’s won the league again with PSG and he is

exactly the same as myself in that he’ll have plenty of things to

do.

“Fashion will be his role I would imagine, but he’s a young man

and he’ll certainly have plenty of things to do.”

Ferguson added: “He is an amazing person and when it comes to

longevity and reinventing himself – David has been absolutely

incredible.

“When he went to America there wasn’t a person in this place who

thought he would really have a career.

“Yet he still went on and played for his country and for Milan

and PSG in European ties.

“The one thing he always had was unbelievable stamina.

“He could run all day and that has allowed him to stay in the

game and play for his country into his mid-30s.”

Rooney has asked to leave United this summer even though he

still has two years on his contract remaining.

Ferguson revealed last week the request had been turned down,

and, along with Gary Neville, advised the England forward to get

away during the summer, get his head sorted out and return

refreshed.

The matter is not quite so simple, as United will not want to

allow the 27-year-old to drift beyond the summer without some kind

of clear vision of his future.

However, as Ferguson acknowledged, it is not his problem any

more.

“I’m no longer interested in that,” said the Scot.

“Quite rightly, David is going to deal with it. I am happy with

that.”

United look set, however, to confirm the future of defender Rio

Ferdinand early next week.

It is understood negotiations over a new deal are at an advanced

stage and provided there are no unforeseen hitches, an official

announcement will be made.

Before then United travel to West Brom for Ferguson’s 1500th and

final game in charge of United, bringing an end to a quite amazing

career in which he has won a staggering 13 Premier League

titles.

Now it falls to Moyes to carry on that winning tradition, with

Ferguson certain the club’s expanding commercial operation will not

get in the way.

“The priority is the football team,” he said.

“Without the football team they wouldn’t have all the

sponsorships.

“Everyone knows that here.”

Ferguson will act as Moyes’ guide in that regard and there are

plenty of others at the club with vast experience who can help

smooth the new man’s transition.

Some aspects of life in the mighty Old Trafford machine Moyes

can only experience for himself.

Touring the Far East this summer will be an interesting

experience for a start.

“David will soon realise the enormity of this club,” said

Ferguson.

“Although I think he does already, he has to fit into the global

brand and number of sponsors we’ve got.

“I don’t think that is an issue. He’s got a good squad of

players and he’ll want to add to that himself.

“I’ve spoken to David a few times. He will have his own ideas

and I would imagine he will want to come in quite soon and speak to

staff.”