Giggs furore threatens to harm United's final plans - European - Football - The Independent

Giggs furore threatens to harm United's final plans

Ferguson fury at press conference as signing of £17m keeper De Gea confirmed

The Ryan Giggs injunction controversy yesterday threatened to undermine Manchester United's preparations for Saturday's Champions League final, as the player was withdrawn from training and a masked gang attacked photographers' cars outside his house.

Giggs last night played in Gary Neville's testimonial match against Juventus at Old Trafford but his absence from Carrington yesterday morning only inflamed the controversy, with Sir Alex Ferguson taking so badly to a question about the 37-year-old's value against Barcelona that he told his press secretary that the inquisitor would be banned from Friday's pre-match press conference at Wembley. "We'll get him. We'll ban him on Friday," Ferguson said.

The United manager last night confirmed the £17m signing of Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David de Gea, which may be concluded early next week. "We identified him quite a while back as one we should go for," Ferguson said. "He's a young goalkeeper; very quick, good composure, presence and an outstanding replacement for [Edwin] van der Sar. We were looking for the same type of qualities as Edwin, because the one great quality Edwin always had was his composure and organisational ability."

But the Giggs issue is more difficult to control. United accept that Ferguson cannot ban any journalist from Friday's press conference and the manager's clear displeasure was followed six hours later by a gang arriving in a Ford Transit van to throw eggs and flour at journalists and vandalise six cars. A press statement on the incident, which was issued without the club's advance knowledge by Greater Manchester Police, included the name of Giggs' street.

Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes all played half an hour of Neville's testimonial last night, with David Beckham also pulling on a United shirt for the first time since 2003. United lost the game 2-1.

Ferguson's response to the events of the past 72 hours suggests he feels they could destabilise United's preparations if he allows them to. The Giggs press conference question – about the value of having a player of such experience available for the final – was put by the Associated Press's Rob Harris, an experienced journalist known in the press corps for his willingness to raise the difficult issues, and was the third of the day at Carrington.

"All the players are important, every one of them," Ferguson replied, then asked his press secretary, Karen Shotbolt, for the identity of the questioner, in an aside which was caught by the microphones. After establishing from her that this journalist would be seeking attendance on Friday, Ferguson replied he would be banned.

Giggs has shown no superficial signs of the strain surrounding his legal battle with reality TV star Imogen Thomas in recent weeks. He was convivial with those journalists he recognised at Manchester Airport en route to United's semi-final match in Schalke on 26 April and was the only player willing to stop to talk at any length to the daily press reporters, after United's second-leg win took them to Wembley.

But United, who fielded Anderson and Rafael da Silva for the last 25 minutes of Neville's testimonial, know that distractions could be fatal. Captain Nemanja Vidic acknowledged yesterday that a key part of their task would be the psychological one – of not allowing Barcelona to get under their skin with gamesmanship.

"We have to focus and concentrate and then it won't be a big deal to handle the things that we know will come," said Vidic in a discussion of the controversy surrounding the Catalans' semi-final first leg against Real Madrid. "Obviously their players have a different mentality to us but it won't be a problem to deal with these things. They may do things and argue more than they should do but it won't affect us. The referee for the game will probably be the best referee around. I think he can cope with that."

2010-11 fan favourites: Players of the year, as chosen by supporters

Javier Hernandez is set to cap a remarkable debut season for Manchester United by leading the attack in Saturday's Champions League final against Barcelona at Wembley. The Mexican has been voted player of the season by the club's supporters, and is (so far) the only winner who played a significant part in last summer's World Cup.

Supporters' player of the season:

Arsenal To be announced on Friday

Aston Villa S Downing (England)

Birmingham B Foster (England)

Blackburn P Robinson (England)

Blackpool D Vaughan (Wales)

Bolton S Holden (US); played four minutes at 2010 World Cup

Chelsea P Cech (Cz Rep)

Everton L Baines (England)

Fulham To be announced next month

Liverpool Lucas (Brazil)

Manchester City V Kompany (Belgium)

Manchester Utd J Hernandez (Mexico); played 169 minutes

Newcastle F Coloccini (Argentina)

Stoke R Huth (Germany)

Sunderland P Bardsley (Scotland)

Tottenham L Modric (Croatia)

West Bromwich Y Mulumbu (Congo)

West Ham S Parker (England)

Wigan A Al Habsi (Oman)

Wolves M Jarvis (England)

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week