Last updated : 23 September 2004 By editor

‘It’s so heart-warming to hear Rio Ferdinand say he's realised what a fabulously privileged and lucky life he leads. Manchester United fans have been "unbelievable" he says, and shown "great loyalty" to him during the eight months he didn't kick a ball due to his own crass stupidity. And he wants them to know he's determined to pay them back. Wow.

‘I hope Ferdinand understands what he's saying here, and I hope he means it. The test will come if United struggle to regain their domestic supremacy and Real Madrid or Chelsea decide to try and seduce him by offering to double his salary.

‘Will he still remember the "l" word? Will he say to himself: "When I was out for eight months, earning £2,444,000 or £10,000-a-day for doing nothing, I cost this club dearly. But those fans, many of whom earn in a year what I do every two-and-a-half days, stood by me. Sod the money, it's time to pay them back with loyalty."

‘Or, like a stupid little drugs test getting in the way of an expensive shopping expedition, will he just conveniently forget about it?’