Manchester United's star striker Wayne Rooney has been left looking like the villain of the piece and will be hated by the club's fans after revelations that he wants to quit, Britain's press said Wednesday.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson on Tuesday confirmed the 24-year-old striker wanted to leave Old Trafford, laying bare the full details of the saga in an extraordinary press conference that stunned commentators and observers of the game alike.
Ferguson's clear distress and feelings of betrayal dealt a heavy blow to Rooney's reputation as a superstar who put loyalty to his club above money, they said.
"Roo's let Utd down," said the Sun newspaper's headline, while the Mirror's simply read: "Betrayal."
"The Manchester United boss threw Wayne Rooney to the lions," said the Sun.
"By leaving the impression Rooney is a mercenary who will go wherever the big bucks are, he's buried a myth the striker has cultivated -- he'd play for United for nothing."
The Guardian added that Ferguson's speech "nailed several myths and cast Rooney as a mercenary with no regard for United's health."
Fans would already be incensed by Rooney's desire to leave Old Trafford -- and this would be made considerably worse by speculation that he could be snapped up by the club's cross-town rivals, said the press.
"Rooney will be villified by Reds fans, not just because he wants to quit Old Trafford but as he is prepared to consider a move to Manchester City," said the Sun.
Ferguson's performance itself, at a press conference ahead of United's Champions League match with Turkish side Bursaspor Wednesday, left many commentators open-mouthed.
His speech was "one of the most compelling pieces of football theatre that we have ever seen," said the Mirror, while the Daily Mail thought it "mesmerising."
There was much sympathy for Ferguson himself, who had said he was unable to provide an explanation for the player's desire to move after six successful years at the club.
"He spoke like a father who had been betrayed by his favourite son," said the Mirror.
"It was as if Roo had desecrated all that United stood for," it added.