James Lawton: Time to press-gang Ferdinand

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson says that he is concerned Rio Ferdinand is being pushed into a corner by United fans. Why? Ferguson explains, "He knows we want him to sign and he knows the fans want him to sign. But we don't want to be shoving him into something he's not sure about." Again, why not? If any feckless sailor in the Premiership gravy boat needs a little pushing around it is surely Rio Ferdinand, who has received support from club and manager way beyond normal levels of loyalty.

Ferguson compromised his own standing when he railed against the Football Association decision to ban the player after he failed to attend a drugs test. Now, he spends time in the company of Chelsea's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, while demanding a pay rise to at least £120,000.

Give Ferdinand a little space, pleads Fergie. Far better, some might say, to pin him against a wall, or the barrel of a hairdryer, and make one last attempt to explain the difference between right and wrong.