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threatened to undermine Manchester United's preparations for Saturday's Champions League final, as the player was withdrawn from training and a masked gang attacked photographers' cars outside his house.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

Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices