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James Lawton: Ferdinand's moving finger underlines his sense of value for all to see

Pleas by club officials for the fans to restrain their criticism of the player who is demanding £120,000 a week so soon after accepting full wages through an eight-month suspension have been optimistic to say the least. Certainly, Ferdinand has shown absolute disdain for the feelings on the terraces.

Maybe fans can from time to time detach themselves from certain imperatives that apply to football just as much as the real world. Their relentless booing of players who have moved to another club is at best monotonous, at worst shriekingly shrill. Presumably, they would not appreciate such attention if they happened to better themselves when the opportunity came along. However, a certain minimum loyalty is required in the emotional theatre of football. Ferdinand has failed to countenance this.

One consequence must surely be that he cannot complain if every shortcoming is seized upon in any match he plays. He has separated himself from the supporters in the most profound way. He has suggested that the colours of his club have become merely flags of today's most convenient profit. He has said, relentlessly, "Show us the money". Now he is obliged to prove that he is worth it, every minute of every game.

The painful process plainly got under way in Japan. It will go on right up to the moment when he signs his deal - or moves on. When a player pushes up the ante in Ferdinand's style, he has to be perfect. Heaven knows, he has a long way to go.