Sir Alex Ferguson was at odds with his prodigious 18-year-old midfielder Ravel Morrison last night, after declaring that the club have made a contract offer to a player who now seems to be lost to Manchester United.
But Morrison's representatives suggested that the club have not offered a deal, and with Newcastle United ready to improve on a £500,000 bid for the player, he has evidently reached the conclusion his future lies elsewhere.
The midfielder tweeted "no contract offer to talk about" during the week and appears to have been disillusioned by the fact that Ferguson opted to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement, rather than give him his chance against Manchester City in the FA Cup third-round win last Sunday. There are suggestions that Morrison, who has been limited to two Carling Cup appearances this season, may have been dropped from the senior squad to train with United's reserves, leaving him with the feeling that he is unwanted at the club.
Ferguson said that Morrison, who is out of contract this summer, was asking for too high a salary.
"His agent has been working hard to get him another club," the manager said yesterday. "We've offered him terms which he has refused so that is where it is.
"We've rejected an offer from Newcastle and it is now down to how that progresses."
Asked if Morrison, in whom United have invested much time and effort to resolve a chaotic off-field life, could still have a future at Old Trafford, the manager replied: "His demands are unrealistic as far as we are concerned."
Ferguson has said in an extensive internet interview that he fears players are unprepared for celebrity culture in its 21st century form.
"They are almost like film celebrities rather than football players," Ferguson told Yahoo. "You hope that by having long enough time with your players that they understand how fragile that celebrity status can be in terms of one minute you're a star and the next minute you're not.
"Dealing with success is a bit more difficult today for young people because of television and the headlines they can get, so you work with them to keep their feet on the ground. I say to them all of the time 'go back to your mother as the same person you were when you arrived'."
Ferguson revealed that he kept the decision to bring Scholes out of retirement from his players "simply because of the impact value" he knew it would deliver against City.
"We did not let any of the players know," Ferguson said. "We are going away from home in a very difficult FA Cup tie and when the 5,000 fans in the away end of the ground knew he was on the team sheet they were fantastic. The response was great."