Thu Dec 30 03:45pm EST
On Wednesday, Preston North End, sitting in last place in the Championship, sacked manager Darren Ferguson just shy of his one-year anniversary on the job. On Thursday, Sir Alex Ferguson, Darren's dad, suddenly decided to yank back two Man United players on loan at Preston -- Ritchie de Laet and Joshua King -- before the previously agreed upon return date next week. He is also trying to get a third player back (Matty James), even though he is on a season-long loan.
All three players say they would like to stay at Preston, where they've gotten playing time as the club tries desperately to hang on to their place in the Championship. Given all this, it's safe to say it's not business, it's personal.
From the Guardian:
"This has come as a shock to us and a bit of a blow," the Preston chairman, Maurice Lindsay, said today. "Ritchie de Laet and Joshua King won't be available for Saturday's game [against Derby] because we got a message from Manchester United this morning to inform us that they had been summoned back immediately and, under the terms of the agreement, they can do that.
"It's a big blow for us. These are two players, young and enthusiastic, who seemed to be enjoying it at Preston, so to be told by their parent club that they can't play for us again really is sad indeed."
It's a petty and bitter move to be sure, but is it surprising? Fergie most likely only loaned those players to Preston in the first place because his son was manager and he knew he could, in turn, keep close watch over them.
"It's unfortunate [with De Laet and King] but we recognise Manchester United's legal right and have to respect that," Lindsay said. "They have also suggested they would like Matty James back as well but it's a bit different legally and I will have to speak with David Unsworth [the caretaker manager] first. David being the tough, effervescent, confident character he is, he will deal with it."
That's the true shame of it. That these young players are being caught up in this game of personal vindictiveness. And speaking of careers, this probably won't help Darren's much either. After all, who wants to hire a man knowing that if he fails, his influential father will do all he can to punish your club even further?
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