MANCHESTER - Wayne Rooney was not even on the pitch but he still managed to dominate Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Bursaspor in the Champions League on Wednesday.
By releasing a statement detailing his motives for wanting to quit Old Trafford hours before kick-off, the injured striker ensured he would eclipse Nani's seventh-minute winner, with the Portuguese not even mentioned in the post-match news conference.
Fans waved banners declaring "Coleen may forgive you but we won't", referring to his wife and allegations about his private life, after the 24-year-old said he wanted to leave the club because of a lack of clout in the transfer market.
Ferguson, who had appeared vulnerable the previous day when describing his shock at Rooney's decision, had a more frustrated air about him when having to field yet more questions about his want-away player when he wanted to talk about the Group C win.
His anger boiled over at one reporter, who explained journalists were looking for answers because they had a rare chance to speak to Ferguson after the manager cancelled several news conferences in recent weeks.
"Why would I want to come and meet you people, the way you behaved? You're as bad as everyone, you don't deserve to be at a press conference, why would I bother with you, the way you behave," he said before calming down to provide some answers.
"What is really important is for us to put it to bed, we don't want it to become a saga," he said, adding that he would be meeting chief executive David Gill on Thursday to discuss Rooney.
There was more drama in the news conference than there had been on the pitch, where United dominated possession although against a better class of opponent would have been made to pay for some patchy defending.
Nani broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when he turned and ran towards goal before unleashing a fine curling shot from 20 metres out past Dimitar Ivankov.
United controlled the first half but showed moments of the vulnerability at the back that has been causing them concern in the domestic season, allowing Bursaspor decent counter-attacking chances for Federico Insua and Ozan Ipek.
Nemanja Vidic could have doubled United's lead but sent his header wide, while Michael Carrick sent a shot flying high over the bar in a match where Ferguson was marking his 2,000th match as a professional soccer manager.
Patrice Evra forced a save from Ivankov on the hour with a tight-angled drive from the left and Nani was on target again midway through the second half with a right-footed shot from the edge of the box.
Substitute Gabriel Obertan headed just wide at the near post seven minutes from time and Javier Hernandez fired inches wide late on but United could not find the net and just managed to hold on to their slim lead.
Victory kept United top of the group with seven points from three games, while Turkish champions Bursaspor remain rooted to the bottom with no points. Rangers are second with five points, one ahead of Valencia.
The Turkish champions' coach Ertugrul Saglam blamed injuries to Sercan Yildirim and Ali Tandogan during the match for a worse performance than he had been hoping for.
"Injuries have not helped tonight's performance... I don't believe the opposition has played as well either so it hasn't been a very eventful evening," he said.
While the football was often less than exciting, in the stands Turkish fans made the most of the trip with choreographed scarf waving, jumping and arm movements that looked like an aerobics class and kept them warm on a chilly evening.