Sir Alex Ferguson today confirmed that Wayne Rooney has asked to leave Manchester United.
Just hours before today's much-anticipated press conference, the England striker was carried off on a stretcher during United's training session this morning.
Although Rooney did complete the first part of today's training session - which is open to the media - once the cameras had left he suffered an ankle injury that means he will miss tomorrow's Champions League encounter with Bursaspor at Old Trafford.
The news was revealed at the end of a dramatic five-minute resume of Rooney's status at the club by Ferguson, who confirmed the 24-year-old called off contract negotiations in August.
"David telephoned me and said he was on his way over because he had some bad news," said Ferguson.
"His agent said he wouldn't sign his contract and wanted away."
"It was a shock. I couldn't believe it," continued Ferguson.
"In early discussions - in March I think - we had discussions with him, he intimated he wanted to stay, that he wanted a life contract with the club, that he was at the best club in the world. It was terribly disappointing to get the news.
"We couldn't understand it."
Ferguson revealed that he tried to change the striker's mind.
"I had a meeting with him, and he intimated to me, in his own way, that he wanted to leave," he said.
"We had a discussion about the whole situation. I said 'the only thing I want from you Wayne is to respect and honour the club's position and its traditions and behave like a proper professional and we will try and see it through'.
"I did say to him, as David Gill intimated, that there was an offer there if he was prepared to accept it. It was an offer that never got to any financial discussions.
"I know that David was prepared to offer him a contract that would be difficult to better elsewhere."
Not that Ferguson felt there was anything wrong with offering big money to a big player.
"That is what you do with top players. There is no big problem with that. We have been doing this kind of thing for quite a while now.
"Contract issues, over the last 10 years, have accelerated to a degree where they are quite phenomenal."
Ferguson then moved on to the subject of Rooney's injury, with the player contradicting his manager's claim that he was suffering from an ankle injury that kept him out of the matches against Valencia and Sunderland earlier this month.
"First of all, I must tell you, I have never had an argument with Wayne Rooney at any time," he said.
"He got an ankle injury in the Rangers game. He was seen clearly hobbling at half-time. He confirmed it himself in an interview with Sky.
"My idea, based on the fact he wasn't playing that well, was to leave him out of the Sunderland game, make sure his ankle is properly prepared for the next game, and give him a 10 day recovery so he could play for England.
"My hope was that by playing for England at Wembley he could recapture his form and we could kick on."
It was after that goalless draw at Wembley that Rooney decided to enter the fray.
"His entry into the mixed zone at Wembley has created that next stage that we have had to deal with, ie that he wasn't injured," added Ferguson.
"I was disappointed because we know he was carrying an injury.
"We sent him for a scan, which showed a minor defect with an ankle injury, nothing serious, but he needed treatment, which he has had.
"There is no argument with that."
Despite the bleak backdrop, Ferguson is refusing to concede defeat in his attempts to keep the player.
"We have to keep the door open for him, simply because he is such a good player," he said.
"We have done nothing but help him since he came to the club. That is another mystery.
"I don't know how many times we have helped him in terms of his private life and other matters.
"He is not the only one who gets that privilege because Manchester United is that type of club. We do that for all players, it doesn't matter who it is. It is part of your job here. You look after your players.
"That creates a tremendous loyalty. It has always been a good foundation of our club."
Ferguson is completely bemused why Rooney should react in the manner he has.
"We cannot quite understand why he would want to leave," he said.
"No-one can deny this club is one of the most successful in British football. We had won 40 major trophies, countless cup finals, a fantastic history, great stadium, great training arrangements. The platform for anyone to take up a challenge is here, without a doubt.
"We don't understand it. I can't answer any questions about why he is doing it.
"We can speculate. We can have opinions. It won't matter a dickie-bird, simply because the player is adamant he wants to leave.
"We have to deal with the next part of that, which we will do, as best we can, in relation to this request.
"I can do no more than I have said at the moment because we still, to my mind, have the door open."
Ironically, Rooney was carried off on a stretcher during training this morning with an ankle injury and will miss the Champions League Group C tie with Bursaspor on Wednesday night.Reuse content