Are You Vermin Or Not?

Last updated : 06 August 2007 By Ed
From the Times

Only one topic has darkened Sir Alex Ferguson's mood in recent weeks and, even as the Manchester United manager basked in the warmth of an uplifting victory in the FA Community Shield, the issue of Gabriel Heinze raised its ugly head. Heinze is due to report to pre-season training today after spending the past five weeks agitating for a controversial move to Liverpool and it was a mark of Ferguson's concern on the matter that he questioned whether the Argentina defender would even turn up.

"You never know," Ferguson said when asked whether he expected to see Heinze at Carrington today. "He has been instructed to turn up. We'll see."

Heinze, for his part, has indicated that he will be present, but his priority is less on building bridges than with reinforcing his desire to become the first senior United player to join Liverpool since Phil Chisnall in 1964.

"Like a professional, I will go to work in Manchester on Monday," he said over the weekend. "I have asked for a meeting with the manager about my future. I know that the offer of Liverpool is a good one, but United have rejected it for reasons that are outside of normal sporting issues. If this offer had been made by another club, then United would have considered it. The rivalry between these two clubs is enormous and I am at the centre of it."

So, too, is the Premier League, which Heinze's representatives have asked to mediate while his solicitors ponder taking the matter to court. Their case is based on a letter from David Gill, the United chief executive, which authorised the player's agent, Roberto Rodriguez, to hawk him to other clubs at a price of £6.8 million. Liverpool had such a bid rejected three weeks ago, with Rodriguez claiming that this was contrary to the terms laid out in the letter, a document that Gill claims is "meaningless" in legal terms.